As Jerry Sloan resigns from the Utah Jazz, seemingly out of the blue, the role of Deron Williams, the franchise's superstar, has come into question. Williams and Sloan famously clashed during the point guard's rookie year; it took months for D-Will to meet Sloan's demand well enough to win even a starting role, despite his high draft status and a roster bereft of backcourt talent. But Williams grew into his role as Sloan's point guard, certainly different than the way John Stockton carried the position, but a tight bond was forged.
Or so we thought.
In the aftermath of Sloan's shocking resignation, we're finding out the relationship between Sloan and Williams wasn't all that it seemed.
Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday on his Twitter feed that Williams and Sloan have had multiple flare-ups this season, including a shouting match at halftime of the Jazz's Wednesday loss to the Chicago Bulls. Smith reports that one source says Williams would have asked out of Utah if Sloan wasn't pushed out.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski similarly cited sources who said the relationship had fallen apart of late.
Sloan's relationship with point guard Deron Williams had grown progressively worse over the course of the season, league sources said, and the coach had tired of dealing with the team's best player. The frustration escalated on Wednesday night when Sloan and Williams clashed in the locker room at halftime.
"He decided right there in halftime that he was done," a league source told Yahoo! Sports. "He felt like ownership was listening more to Williams than they were to him anymore. He was done."
ESPN's Marc Stein traces the disintegration to one possession, reporting that Williams ran a play different than the one Sloan called against the Bulls, leading to the halftime blow-up.
Sloan was the longest-tenured head coach in American pro sports; if anyone had a contract for life, it was Sloan. Should the reports about Williams' influence in Sloan's departure, it'll be just another notch in the NBA's vast and absolutely accurate reputation as a players' league.