Utah Jazz Owner Says Karl Malone Is Lying
Former Utah Jazz star Karl Malone did not back off on Saturday from comments he had made about Jazz management’s handling of Jerry Sloan’s retirement.
“I expressed what I feel and I don’t regret what I said,” Malone told The Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday. “It’s what I believe about Coach Sloan.”
To sum up the back-and-forth between Malone and Utah Jazz CEO Greg Miller: Malone last week called out Miller and Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor for their involvement in Sloan’s February 2011 resignation, saying they cut Sloan’s legs out from him by not supporting his efforts to discipline since-traded point guard Deron Williams. Miller, in turn, wrote a lengthy post on his blog calling Malone, among other things, “unstable,” and steadfastly maintained that it was Sloan’s decision to retire.
Sloan, meanwhile, issued a statement on Saturday in which he said he had the Millers’ full support during his tenure.
“I left on my own volition. It is not true that the Millers undermined my authority as head coach. I had their complete backing to run the team as I wished and was assured that no player could ever overrule my decisions,” Sloan’s statement said. “The Millers encouraged me to stay with the team and gave me multiple opportunities to do so. They felt strongly that I should wait at least until the end of the season to resign and did everything they could to keep me coaching.
“I do not wish to make any further statements regarding this issue. It is time for me and my family to move on and I ask that the media respect my wishes and respect the integrity of the Miller family and all that they have done for the Utah Jazz and this community.”
The sniping between Malone and Miller had escalated for several days leading up to Sloan’s statement:
Malone said on a Feb. 27 radio show that Miller and O’Connor gave Williams, whose clashes with Sloan were known, too much power; the relationship soured for good during a game in Chicago, and a postgame meeting between Sloan, Miller and O’Connor didn’t stop the coach from retiring the following day.
“That defining moment when (management and ownership) should have stood up for Jerry Sloan, they chose Deron Williams,” he said. “And Coach Sloan, being the coach I know and love, said, ‘You know what? We should part ways.’ And he said what he said. And once Coach Sloan says something, it’s history.”
Sloan, Miller and O’Connor all maintain that the decision was Sloan’s alone. Malone, meanwhile, went on to say that he had to buy tickets to a Jazz game from a scalper because he couldn’t get in touch with the team, which motivated Miller to air his own grievances via his blog.
“The fact is Karl is still as high-maintenance as he ever was, but now he has nothing to offer to offset the grief and aggravation that comes with him. Some would argue that he could coach our big men. I would love to have Karl inspire them and teach him how to be warriors like he was. That can’t happen. Karl is too unreliable and too unstable,” Miller wrote before going on for several paragraphs about, among other things, Malone blowing off lunch dates.
“Karl, I’m not sure where or how our relationship became so sour. I wish it was otherwise. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you in any way. I’d love to do whatever I can to mend the fence and make you feel welcome at Jazz games. I would love to have you as an ambassador for the Utah Jazz. You have a standing invitation to do both.”
In the post, Miller, who’d also tweeted a rebuttal to Malone’s ticket claim, praised Malone’s contributions to the franchise. Malone on Saturday told the Tribune that he would defer further comment about Miller until he had a chance to speak with him in person.
“We’ve all become very brave when we’re tweeting, texting, blogging. We just write and press send. I don’t have time for that,” Malone said.
“Don’t tweet it, don’t blog it, don’t text it, give me a little human element. … I’m in town two or three times a month. Until I see him face to face, there won’t be any more comment about Greg Miller. … He’ll see me again.”