Williams will deny to this day that he was the reason Sloan decided to abruptly hang it up back in the 2010-2011 season. There were never official reports or claims explaining why blame would fall on the shoulders of the former Jazz point guard. Jazz CEO Greg Miller, however, detailed the story of what went down on the night Sloan lost it, and seeing what he had to say pretty much summed up what most believed all along.
Considering the fact that no one really knew (or could only assume) what got into Sloan bad enough for him to resign up until now, the story below is well worth a read, from Jody Genessy of Deseret News:
The beginning of the end for Sloan and his 23-year tenure as the Jazz’s head coach, Miller explained, began with the last play of the first half in Utah’s home game against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 9, 2011. And, yes, it revolved around an increasingly contemptuous relationship All-Star point guard Deron Williams had with the Hall of Fame coach.
“The last play of the half,” Miller said, “Deron got after Gordon Hayward, the play broke down and we went into the locker room.”
During that fateful halftime break, Sloan “reprimanded Deron” for freelancing. According to Miller, who usually accompanies the team into the locker room, the Jazz coach told his star player something to the effect of, “Hey, if you’re going to change the play, it would be nice if you’d let the rest of the team know so we have a chance to score.”
Williams’ response: “My bad.”
Much to Miller’s chagrin, the contentious moment, however, continued after that exchange.
“If (Williams) would’ve left it right there, Jerry might have never left,” Miller said.
Instead, Williams allegedly continued to pop off. Jazz center Al Jefferson even reached over and tried to ease tensions by telling his teammate, “C’mon now.”
Sloan had had enough.
“Jerry said at that point, ‘I don’t have anything else,'” Miller said.
Instead of turning the time over to his assistants, Sloan headed to his office around the corner from the players lockers. As he passed Miller, the then-68-year-old coach told the Jazz CEO, “I’d like to have a word with you after the game.”
“Deron was right behind us and he said, ‘Yeah, I want to be in the meeting too,'” Miller related. “Jerry said, ‘Do you want me to just quit right now?'”
That shocked Miller and, no doubt, everybody who heard him drop the foreshadowing bombshell.
Maybe the heat of the moment got the best of Sloan. Or maybe, Williams’ behavior is something the coach had to deal with for quite some time and he simply had enough of it. Given the petty nature of the former, the latter seems to make a lot more sense. It wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world, given all the reports and rumors about how much of a diva Williams has become. Either way, one thing is now clear: Williams was a catalyst in driving Sloan away.
On that note, happy birthday, Deron. Onto other news from around the league:
- The Cavaliers appear to be aggressively shopping the No. 1 pick. The latest rumor is their offer to the Pelicans, from Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld: “The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to explore their trade options with the No. 1 overall pick, according to sources close to the situation. Cleveland has been very aggressive in their attempt to move the top pick and discussed plenty of scenarios. The Cavaliers have had negotiations with a number of teams, including the New Orleans Pelicans. Cleveland offered New Orleans this year’s top overall pick in exchange for point guard Greivis Vasquez, the No. 6 overall pick and a 2014 first-round pick, according to sources. The Cavaliers, like most teams, would love to acquire an additional first-round pick for the 2014 NBA Draft since that draft class is expected to be one of the most talented in recent memory.”