Former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan suffering from Parkinson’s disease

Courtesy of USA Today Sports

Former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan is among the most successful men to walk the bench in the recent history of the NBA.

Sloan coached the Jazz from 1988-2011, leading the team to the playoffs in 19 of the 21 full seasons he was its head coach. Equally as impressive, Utah earned 50-plus wins 11 times during his tenure.

Sloan, 74, stepped away from the game of basketball midway through the 2010-11 season after leading the Jazz to a 31-23 record.

The abrupt nature of Sloan’s resignation threw many for a loop. Why was he leaving in the middle of the season? Were there some sort of issues between him and the front office?

Opening up to Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday, Sloan announced that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

Speaking to the paper with his wife by his side, Sloan indicated that he doesn’t want people feeling sorry for him after publicly announcing the two illnesses he was diagnosed with last fall.

Parkinson’s is a disorder of the central nervous system that impacts movement. Two of the most high-profile individuals afflicted with this disease are former boxer Muhammad Ali and actor Michael J. Fox.

Those with the disease normally have the same average life expectancy as people without the disease. Though, quality of life is surely impacted a great deal. We have seen that with both Ali and Fox in a public forum.

According to the Florida Hospital System, about one million Americans are affected by the disease. The average age at onset is 60 years old.

Lewy body dementia, the lesser known of these two afflictions, is a disease that’s commonly diagnosed in people with either Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s. Loss of memory, reasoning, cognitive function and depression are among the most common symptoms. It’s a disease that tends to progress rapidly.

Our thoughts go out to Sloan and his loved ones during this most difficult of times. We know he will do his best to battle these diseases in the very same passion he showed during his NBA coaching career.