Seasons with Bulls:
March 28, 1942 in Gobbler’s Knob, Illinois
May 22, 2020
1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4th overall
Selected by the Baltimore Bullets
Jerry Sloan was known as Mr. Bull. He was the first Bulls player to have his number retired and was in the starting lineup for the inaugural Bulls team in 1966 after being added to the new team in the 1966 NBA expansion draft. The No. 4 Sloan went on to play 11 seasons for the Bulls and then was Bulls head coach from 1979 to 1982 before moving onto a Hall of Fame coaching career with the Utah Jazz.
Sloan came to perhaps best represent the spirit of the Bulls and his Midwest and Chicago in a comment the 185 pounder often make about contending against bigger players. “Size doesn’t make any difference,” Sloan would say. “Heart is what makes a difference.”
Sloan was born the youngest of 10 children on a farm in Gobbler’s Knob near McLeansboro in southern Illinois. He’d routinely wake at 4:30 a.m. to complete his farm chores before walking several miles to school for 7 a.m. basketball practice, a work ethic that presaged his play as one of the most rugged and physical defensive guards in NBA history.
The 6-5 Sloan was a two-time All-Star and six-time all-defensive team player after playing for Evansville College. Despite playing guard, he was the expansion Bulls leading rebounder at more than nine per game. He led those expansion Bulls to the playoffs to become the only NBA expansion team ever to make the playoffs. The NBA didn’t chart steals during his career until his last two seasons when he was injured. Yet he still placed in the league’s top 10 in steals those seasons. Even in his last full NBA season, Sloan still was named to the all-defensive team. Said then Bulls coach Dick Motta about Sloan: “He is the story of the franchise. He is the franchise.”