In my previous post, I cited stories from both ESPN and Yahoo News (via TSN) which implied that an increasingly testy relationship between point guard Deron Williams and coach Jerry Sloan triggered Sloan's sudden surprise resignation on Friday February 10th, 2011, just five days after he'd signed an extension to his existing contract. Yahoo Sports claimed that Sloan and Williams clashed all season long, and Sloan felt ownership was taking the player’s side. Even Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson said there were numerous profanity-laced confrontations between Sloan and Williams during the past month, when the Jazz began to slip in the standings. The discord between Sloan and Williams came to a head during halftime of the Jazz’s loss at home to Chicago on Wednesday night, and Sloan made his decision to resign then.
Now the parties are acting to spike the reports. Jerry Sloan said "I think Deron's a wonderful player and he tried to do the things we asked him to do, and I don't know what more you can ask." And Sloan rebutted the notion that Williams forced him out. Sloan said, "I forced myself out. I don't want to hear the fact that some player forced me out."
Deron Williams also chimed in. According to KSL Channel 5, Williams said "Coach Sloan is -- we've had, I don't want say a rocky relationship, but we've had our disagreements over the years, you know, probably no more than any other coach and player have arguments. We were both competitive, we're both very stubborn, and I think that's where we clashed. One thing we always agreed on is we both wanted to win." ESPN also quoted Williams as saying, “I would never force Coach Sloan out of Utah. He’s meant more to this town, to this organization than I have, by far. That’s not my place. If that was the case, I would’ve just said I wanted out before.” Two Jazz players, C.J. Miles and Gordon Hayward, also sent kudos to Sloan. KSL news video below:
But ESPN analyst J.A. Adande wondered that if a coach -- and not just any coach, but Jerry Sloan -- can't overcome player unrest in Utah, can any coach be safe? He opined that the instability caused by the flexing of player power over the past year is much more tangible than any threat of contraction or franchise relocation. And he noted an additional complication -- That the mere threat of Deron Williams leaving the Jazz in 2012 via free agency may have been enough to pry Sloan from his sideline seat after 23 years. The Deseret News also documents a host of other reaction HERE.
Meanwhile, new Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, a former Jazz player, is getting some kudos of his own. Team officials say Corbin is well-prepared, and Jerry Sloan said the Jazz couldn't have picked a better successor. Corbin said the Jazz will continue to play the same style as they had under Sloan, with some minor tweaking on the fly. Corbin's career NBA stats are available at Basketball Reference.