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Utah Jazz

This Date in NBA History (Dec. 9): Jerry Sloan begins legendary 23-year coaching stint with Utah Jazz

On Dec. 9, 1988, Jerry Sloan took over as head coach of the Utah Jazz.

It was the beginning of a legendary coach-franchise partnership, one that would last 23 years until Sloan resigned midway through the 2010-11 season. In between, Sloan set and broke multiple records while coaching the team.

When he took over, the Jazz were coming off five straight playoffs appearances. He helped extend that streak to 20 - the fourth-longest in NBA history - which included the franchise's only two NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998.

In Sloan's years as the head coach of the Jazz, from 1988 to 2011, the team only had one sub .500 season and missed the playoffs three times. Over a 15-year stretch from 1988 to the end of the 2002-03 season, Karl Malone's last with the team, the Jazz held the best record in the league.

Sloan became the first coach in NBA history to reach 1,000 wins with a single team. His win total of 1,221 games for his coaching career is the fourth-most in NBA history, and his win percentage of 60.3% is sixth-best among coaches with at least 500 wins.

One of just seven coaches in NBA history to have coached 10 seasons or more with at least 50 wins, Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

"He was a mentor for me from afar until I got to know him," Pop, who only recently passed Sloan for most consecutive seasons (24) as the head coach with a single franchise and most career wins, said when Sloan passed away this past May.

Other notable events on Dec. 9

  • In 1961, Wilt Chamberlain recorded a monster double-double of 61 points and 36 rebounds in a 135-113 win over the Chicago Packers.
  • In 1981, Danny Ainge made his NBA debut for the Boston Celtics. He went on to win two NBA championships with the franchise in 1984 and 1986.
  • In 1993, Kevin Johnson became the 13th player in NBA history to record 10 steals in an NBA game as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Washington Wizards, 114-95.
  • In 1995, Karl Malone went off for a season-high 51 points in a 123-109 win over the Golden State Warriors. It was the second of four regular-season 50-point games in Malone's career.
  • In 1997, Michael Jordan became the third-highest scorer in NBA history as he passed Moses Malone's tally of 27,409 points in a 100-82 win over New York Knicks.
  • In 2000, Gary Payton became the leading scorer in Seattle SuperSonics history as he scored 35 points in a loss to the Houston Rockets.
  • In 2004, Tracy McGrady scored 13 points in the last 35 seconds against the San Antonio Spurs. That incredible performance helped the Rockets comeback from trailing 76-68 to winning the game, 81-80.

Recent game-winning buzzer-beaters on Dec. 9

Nemanja Bjelica vs. Houston Rockets in 2019

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