Good article by Gordon Monson in the Salt Lake Tribune with Karl Malone providing commentary on Malone’s understanding of what went down just prior to Jerry Sloan’s decision to resign.
Here are the interesting details
Trouble had been stirring between Williams and Sloan for months. Sloan admitted that the two “got into it.” Malone said the Jazz had empowered the point guard to go directly to O’Connor when he disagreed with Sloan and that was, as Karl called it, “the perfect storm.”
“I know for a fact that [Sloan] was overridden on practices sometime on the road because Deron was calling our G.M. at that time,” Malone said. “ … You give a guy that much power, and he’s the kind of player you think he played hard all the time, but if he wanted to sulk he could sulk. … I never went to Larry [Miller] to talk about Coach Sloan. … It’s not one time, in my gut and heart, that I would go over his head.”
In that fateful game against Chicago at ESA, Williams busted out of a number of plays called by Sloan — something Malone said he and John Stockton would never do — and the coach was infuriated. He wanted Williams disciplined and believed management, including O’Connor, didn’t sufficiently back him. So he quit. A half-hour meeting with Jazz brass after the game left Sloan unsatisfied.
It’s a sequence that has never been publicly detailed by any of the handful of people in the meeting. But it has been confirmed this week by a confidant of someone in the meeting who was told what occurred.
The Jazz have stayed with their company line that Sloan simply got tired and decided the time was right to jump aboard his John Deere and ride off into the sunset.
Malone, who regularly talks with Sloan, called B.S. on that.
“That defining moment when [management and ownership] should have stood up for Jerry Sloan, they chose Deron Williams,” he said. “And Coach Sloan, being the coach I know and love, said, ‘You know what? We should part ways.’ And he said what he said. And once Coach Sloan says something, it’s history.”
O’Connor, who heard what Malone said on Friday, agreed to come on the show on Tuesday, and he called B.S. back.
“Karl wasn’t in the room, I was in the room,” O’Connor said, “and the only thing I can tell you is, I’d like you guys to go ask Jerry. … Greg was in there. He did everything possible with Jerry to make him stay, to have him finish off the season. [Sloan] had complete autonomy to do anything he wanted to do, as far as any kind of punishment.
“The next morning, we’d asked him to sleep on it, and Gail [Miller] came in and both Greg and Gail asked him. So, I can honestly say that there’s nothing farther from the truth than those kinds of comments.
“The minute [Sloan] said [he was quitting], we said, ‘Don’t do it.’ … What I know is, I was in every meeting. I heard every sentence, every word, and I can tell you what transpired. I would love for you to go speak to Jerry and to Phil Johnson … and ask them these questions.”
Update: Jerry Sloan made a statement today contradicting the earlier report and corroborating everything Kevin O’Connor and Greg Miller have said and reiterating everything Sloan has said in the past
But in the statement, Sloan said that was not how it occurred.
“I would like to set the record straight regarding my retirement from the Utah Jazz,” he said. “I had the unwavering support of the Miller family during my 23 seasons as head coach with the franchise and I left on my own volition. It is not true that the Millers undermined my authority as head coach. I had their complete backing to run the team as I wished and was assured that no player could ever overrule my decisions.
“The Millers encouraged me to stay with the team and gave me multiple opportunities to do so. They felt strongly that I should wait at least until the end of the season to resign and did everything they could to keep me coaching.
“I do not wish to make any further statements regarding this issue. It is time for me and my family to move on and I ask that the media respect my wishes and respect the integrity of the Miller family and all that they have done for the Utah Jazz and this community.”