Update: Deron Williams denies he pushed Jerry Sloan out; updated post HERE.
In an absolutely stunning decision, Utah Jazz basketball coach Jerry Sloan announced his resignation on February 10th, 2011. Departing along with him is assistant coach Phil Johnson. The decision comes shortly after Sloan had signed a one-year contract extension on Monday February 7th to carry him through the 2011-2012 season. KSL Channel 5 reports that the decision apparently is an outgrowth of a stormy meeting with General Manager Kevin O'Connor after last night's loss to the Chicago Bulls in Salt Lake City. Assistant Ty Corbin has been named the new head coach, and management distinctly said it is NOT merely an interim title. Major coverage from KSL embedded below:
Other Utah media stories:
-- "Sloan's impact transcends basketball", KSL Channel 5
-- "Utah Jazz: Jerry Sloan era officially ends; Tyrone Corbin named new coach", Deseret News
-- "Tearful Sloan says ‘my time is up’", Salt Lake Tribune (337 comments so far)
-- "Jazz coach Jerry Sloan steps down", KTVX Channel 4
-- "Utah Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan resigns", KSTU Channel 13
-- Jerry Sloan's complete coaching record from Basketball Reference.
Sloan said. "This is a little tougher than I thought it would be. I would like to say thanks to a lot of people. When I get this over with, I am going to feel a lot better. I would like to thank the Miller family for sticking by me for my career as a coach." Sloan also thanked his family and assistant Phil Johnson who he credited with helping land him a job with the franchise.
Corbin stated: "For me this is a great opportunity, I would like to thank the Utah Jazz. For me, this is a bittersweet moment. While its a great opportunity for me, its a bitter moment for me because I will miss these guys a lot. Right now I just don't feel . . . We will do the best job that we can. I don't think this should be about me, it should be about these guys. I will be around for the duration but please give your attention to these guys."
Despite the reported stormy postgame meeting on Wednesday night, Kevin O'Connor also praised Sloan and Johnson for their work on the team, and divulged that he and other Jazz management team members had tried to convince Jerry and Phil to stay, even minutes before the press conference. CEO Greg Miller then spoke and said, "Nobody pushed Jerry or Phil out. Not any player, any aspiring coach and certainly not me."
ESPN hints that a declining relationship with Deron Williams may have precipitated the decision; during the Bulls game, Sloan reacted angrily during the home loss when Deron Williams called a play on the floor that was different from the one Sloan called from the sideline. That led to an emotional dispute at halftime, which was followed by Sloan's closed-door meeting with O'Connor after the game. TSN reports that Yahoo Sports goes much further and says that Sloan and Williams have clashed all season long, and Sloan felt ownership was taking the player’s side. 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,
Sloan began working for the Jazz as a scout in 1983, became assistant to coach Frank Layden on November 19th, 1984, and was named the sixth coach in franchise history on December 9th, 1988, when Layden resigned. He is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team, a feat he accomplished November 7th against Oklahoma City. Sloan's other wins came with the Chicago Bulls from 1979 to 1982. But the Jazz, who started out 15-5, fell to 31-23 after the loss to Chicago, The Chicago loss was the third straight at home, where the Jazz are only 17-11 this season. Earlier in the season, the Jazz were falling behind by 10-15 points early in games, but stormed back to win. But it seemed like the league had caught up to the Jazz and teams were preventing them from coming back. The Jazz have looked bad in several recent losses.
Nevertheless, there were virtually no calls for Jerry Sloan's head. Most Jazz fans realize that beyond Deron Williams and Al Jefferson, there isn't a whole lot of depth. Furthermore, the Jazz have sustained a run of injuries lately. Sloan is well-respected in Utah.