On February 7, 2011, Jerry Sloan renewed his contract with the Utah Jazz for one more season to remain head coach. But four days later he surprised the basketball world by resigning after leading the franchise to 23 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the history of the four major professional sports in the United States.
His departure was caused by an argument between the coach and the team's star point guard, Deron Williams, at halftime of a game that Utah lost to the Chicago Bulls.
According to what was published by the Salt Lake Tribune at the time, this was not the first clash between the two, and there were several previous fights throughout the season.
Unfortunately, everything was quickly erased and the matter was never clarified. Until now. In a recent interview with SHOWTIME Basketball, Williams confessed what happened that season and how he made peace with his former coach.
“Our relationship was definitely strained at the end. I held on to that rookie year, not starting and not the way he kind of. What I talked about earlier about how he didn't really play me and play me, you know, a couple of minutes here and then all of a sudden I play. I think I took that personally for a while, when I was younger and kind of held that grudge. I think that affected me a little bit. I was definitely a little shit at times, little pre Madonna. And also I knew how Coach Sloan was. I think I kind of we poke the bear just to see his reactions to it was kind of like a little back and forth thing and shit that I definitely wouldn't do now or knowing what I know now. But I always respect the Coast Loan. I learned a lot from him my best years. We're definitely in Utah. My best basketball definitely thrive his system. And I got a lot of love and respect for him as a coach. And as a person, did you guys have any conversations after your career or just kind of once that situation in Utah kind of fell away. That's kind of what it was.
I ended up meeting with him about maybe two years ago. Greg Miller, old owner and GM, got me to go out there and meet with Loan and kind of clear the air and we're able to talk. I always wanted to reach out. It's like one of those things where I always knew I need to reach out and apologize. And I feel like, just kind of I don't know if I'm scared someone coach slows, intimidating even as a grown man. It's like because I was with him when I was so young. It's like you always look at him differently. And but I was able to talk with him after he was diagnosed with dementia. So he was definitely regressing a little bit. Our conversations will kind of they actually got heated a couple of times. Well, he got heated a couple of times. It's almost like he was right back in the moment. I pissed him off. I was like, oh, shit. No question Colona fights you. I've seen him try to go at Jerry Stackhouse pouring a game. I'm like, oh, I don't know if you want to do that right now. That's the one you want to choose. Maybe that ain't the one I was happy. I was able to get a chance before he pass to talk with him and apologize for being a little s**t”.
After that, Deron went to the Brooklyn Nets and maintained his averages but his performance started to decreased and in 2016/17 he played his last season in the NBA.
Sloan's record at the helm of the Jazz was 1,221 wins and 803 losses, with a 60.3% winning percentage, reaching two NBA Finals under the duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
He said goodbye to the Jazz and the NBA in style, until he passed away last year at the age of 76, worn out by Parkinson's and dementia. His light will never go out and thankfully Deron was able to make peace with him.