Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard reacts to death of Jerry Sloan

Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz (Photo Credit: Brian Bahr)
Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz (Photo Credit: Brian Bahr) /

Coaching legend Jerry Sloan’s death impacts Blazers’ star Damian Lillard, who played college basketball just miles away from Salt Lake City at Weber State.

Today, former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, 78, died due to complications with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia according to a statement released by the Jazz. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard responded on Twitter.

Lillard attended Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, 33 miles north of Salt Lake City. Lillard played for Weber State from 2008 to 2012 while Sloan was still coaching the Jazz.

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In his 2016 rap song called “Wasatch Front”—the name of a northern Utah community—Lillard reminisces on his time at Weber State and his desire to play for Sloan. Today, Lillard retweeted his lyric about Sloan from the song in tribute to the late coaching legend.

Lillard cherished his time at Weber State. In an interview with Northern Utah news publication Standard-Examiner in 2019, Lillard said he was proud to be an alumnus of the university.

"“Being successful and coming from this university and this program, people take pride in that. It’s no different than when my mom is out somewhere and they’re like, ‘You’re Damian Lillard’s mom.’ She has pride about that.”"

The five-time NBA All-Star averaged 18.8 points and 3.5 assists at Weber State and is the career leader in three-pointers made with 246.

In an interview with Salt Lake City news station KSL in February,  the Oakland, California native said Utah felt like home.

“Utah and Portland are similar to me, both another home — where I’m accepted as one of their own,” Lillard said. “They’re both very comparable.”

KSL reported Lillard visits Weber State every time the Blazers play the Jazz. Dame tweeted in 2017 that if the Blazers ever didn’t want him, he would play for the Jazz or the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jerry Sloan coached the Jazz for 23 seasons. He led the team to 1,223 victories, 19 trips to the playoffs and two trips to the Finals in 1997 and 1998.

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He coached Hall of Fame players Karl Malone and John Stockton. Sloan was inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.