The NBA community was dealt heartbreaking news on Friday morning when the Utah Jazz confirmed the passing of legendary head coach Jerry Sloan, who succumbed to multi-year battles with Parkinson's disease and dementia.
The late Hall of Famer is recognized for leading Utah to 15 consecutive playoff appearances from 1988 to 2003 while coaching the superstar duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton. However, he also had an impact on today's generation of players.
Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap was fortunate enough to learn under Sloan's tutelage for five seasons from 2006-2011, and the 35-year-old vet tweeted out a touching tribute after learning of his former coach's death.
This post speaks volumes about the way Sloan touched the lives of his players, and it goes without saying that the coaching icon helped mold Millsap into the four-time All-Star he went on to become.
Across 14 seasons, the former second-round pick has averaged 14 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and one block per game while shooting 49.1% from the floor. You really can't help but feel that Sloan was the driving force behind Millsap's unexpected maturation.
He started just three games in his first two seasons for the Jazz, and clearly appreciates everything that Sloan did to help jumpstart his career.
Expect the tributes for Sloan to keep pouring in. There really aren't enough words to encapsulate his influence on the sport.