There’s always been major speculation surrounding the tenuous relationship between former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and former Jazz point guard/current Brooklyn Nets franchise player Deron Williams. The oft-told story is that Sloan’s strained relationship with Williams, branded a “coach killer,” forced him into retirement.
For the first time, Jazz CEO Greg Miller spoke with reporters about the incident, which he says he wrote down in a journal and kept to himself for the past two years.
The report alleges that Sloan’s retirement did stem out of a fight with Williams, but that it wasn’t the only factor; Sloan was simply out of gas.
From the Associated Press report:
It started when Sloan and Williams got into an argument at halftime about the final play before the half.
Sloan walked away from the team toward his office and past Miller, saying: “I’d like to have a word with you after the game.”
Williams shot back, “Yeah, I want to be in the meeting, too.”
“Do you want me to quit right now?” Sloan replied.
As the argument escalated, then-assistant coach Ty Corbin calmed Williams while Miller took Sloan aside and told him to focus on winning the game. He also reaffirmed the franchise’s commitment to backing the coach over the player.
After the Jazz lost to the Chicago Bulls, Miller went back into Sloan’s office and pulled a chair up next to Sloan.
“Jerry, I know this is frustrating,” Miller said to Sloan. “But we’re just going to have to muscle through it.”
“I’ve been at this a long time and there is nothing left in the tank,” Miller recalled Sloan saying. “I think I’m done.”
“C’mon, Jerry,” Miller said.
“No, I’m serious,” Sloan said. “I’m out of gas.”
Miller asked him to at least stay through the season, but Sloan just kept repeating that he was out of gas. As the seriousness of Sloan’s words hit him, Miller decided begging him to stay wasn’t going to work.
“Jerry, I got to respect your decision,” Miller told him. “If you are done, you’re done. I’m not happy about it.”
Miller convinced him to sleep on it, but the next day Sloan announced his retirement after leading the Jazz to the playoffs 19 times in 22 seasons and to the NBA Finals twice.
Two weeks later, the Jazz traded Williams to the New Jersey Nets.
Sloan has since returned to the Jazz this summer as a senior basketball adviser.