Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan received another honor last weekend — one that hit close to home.
The gymnasium at Hamilton County High School in McLeansboro, Ill., was named for Sloan, a former star with the Chicago Bulls who was head coach of the Utah Jazz for 23 season. A McLeansboro native, he was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Sloan was honored before a game at the high school on Saturday night, the Southern Illinoisan newspaper reported.
Dr. Brian Sloan, a former Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois who played at Indiana, introduced his father to the crowd. State Rep. John Bradley also spoke, as did Kurt Gibson of the Illinois High School Association.
According to the newspaper, Jerry Sloan said, "... I didn’t think I deserved to be here. I thought this would be something for somebody else."
Sloan hopes his success will help youngsters in southern Illinois "... work a little harder [and] do a better job so they get a chance to have some bright spots in their life like I had."
Sloan compared the local honor to his induction into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., three years ago.
"... It’s a smaller stage," Sloan said, "but the excitement is still there because you look forward to seeing people you haven’t seen, people you haven’t had a chance to visit with. Being in your hometown, that’s always nice."
Brian Sloan said, "It’s a lot of fun for us because we know not only what he means to this community, but what the community means to him. Growing up here for him, I know, was very special. Coming from where he came from to get to where he was is an amazing story. He loves this community. He loves this town. He loves being from where he’s from. That’s the nice thing about this event, he gets to honor that."
— Steve Luhm
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