Chicago Bulls: 15 best defenders of all-time

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Jerry Sloan, Chicago Bulls
Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images /

4. player. 24. . Shooting Guard. 1966-1976. Jerry Sloan

The name Jerry Sloan brings to mind for most the longtime and Hall-of-Fame coach of the Utah Jazz. In the context of the Chicago Bulls, most fans under the age of 50 would think of the showdowns in the 1990s between Sloan’s Jazz and the Jordan-Pippen Bulls in the NBA Finals.

Yet before he was a coach scheming how to beat the Bulls he was wearing the jersey himself.

Known as “the Original Bull”, Sloan was the very first face of the franchise, playing for the Bulls from 1966 to 1976. In 1978 his number ‘4’ jersey was the first retired jersey in franchise history, and he even spent four seasons as the head coach before moving on to Utah.

While playing for the Bulls, Sloan was a dynamic on-ball defender, making life miserable for any guard he matched up with. His steal numbers are elite despite only being tracked over his final three seasons, and he likely would have lead the league in steals multiple times were they tracked earlier in his career.

Sloan figured prominently in award voting and was well-recognized for his defensive prowess. Six times he made an All-Defense Team, four times making the first team. Defensive Player of the Year did not begin until after he was retired or Sloan may have challenged for that in his prime.

The Bulls went from expansion team to division champion in just a few seasons, and Sloan was at the center of that success. Along with Norm Van Lier, Bob Love and Tom Boerwinkle he was part of a fearsome defensive lineup that allowed the team to succeed around offensive star Chet Walker during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Sloan falls just behind His Airness as the greatest defensive guard in franchise history.