SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Jazz Guard Deron Williams and Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan have finally put their troubled past behind them.
In a feature written by UtahJazz.com writer Aaron Falk detailing important events that led up to the tattered relationship between Sloan and Williams, Falk explains that there are potentially two calls that ultimately created the rift.
“The first was a ‘Twenty-Two,’ a play designed to feed the center on the left block. Back in February of 2011, the brash, young All-Star point guard says he knew his big man preferred the other side of the floor,” Falk wrote.
The second is the call that never came after Williams was traded to the then-New Jersey Nets in the summer of 2010.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years,” Williams told Falk. “Just kind of stubbornness and nerves and all that played a part in why I never reached out.”
The fallout between the Hall of Fame coach and the three-time All-Star can’t be traced to one specific event but Williams’ eventual rise to stardom and Sloan’s overall happiness with the team had clearly begun to erode any hope of success between the two.
Following a loss to the Chicago Bulls in February 2011, Coach Sloan resigned and the Jazz eventually traded Williams as he was about to become a free agent in an attempt to spark a rebuild.
Williams admits that there was a “strong possibility” that he would have left anyway, even if he wasn’t traded.
Years later, following stints with the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Williams was contacted by Utah Jazz president Steve Starks on a potential meeting between him and Coach Sloan to try and mend whatever relationship was left.
The opportunity was surely hastened after Sloan’s overall health begun to deteriorate after he was diagnosed in 2016 with Parkinson’s disease and a form of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
“The thought of Coach Sloan passing away at some point before this meeting took place, to me, was terrible,” Starks said in the article. “As Deron’s career started to wind down and Coach’s health declined, enough time had passed—and now it was time to come together. I really believe if the meeting didn’t take place, both of them would regret it.”
All of Starks’ planning came to fruition as Williams was invited to Jerry and Tammy Sloan’s office at the coach’s home on June 19 of this year to try and rebuild the relationship that was torn seven years ago.
“He doesn’t forget a lot of things, instances where I pissed him off, things I did to upset him,” Williams was quoted saying. “If you know him, he’s never been one to shy away from telling you the truth and how he feels.”
The two ended the meeting with a handshake and a new understanding of each other’s perspectives and regrets but most importantly, a sense of closure, not only for Williams and Sloan or the Utah Jazz organization but also for the Utah Jazz fans who witnessed the events that took place during the 2010-2011 season.
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