SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz CEO Greg Miller said Tuesday that he pleaded with Jerry Sloan not to quit mid-season two years ago after a clash with star guard Deron Williams, but that the longtime head coach couldn’t be talked out of it.
During a round table with reporters Tuesday, Miller for the first time recounted what happened behind closed doors during the final game of Sloan’s 23-year run as Jazz coach on Feb. 9, 2011.
Miller said it started when Sloan and Deron 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. “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.