Greg Miller, explaining his side (Getty Images)
On Friday, we published an account detailing a report from the Salt Lake Tribune, with writer Gordon Monson helping Karl Malone once again tear into the Utah Jazz for their work in making life untenable for former coach Jerry Sloan. The hook, pitched in order to strike at the heart of fair-weather fans, was that Malone had to score a ticket from a scalper for a sold-out Jazz game in the wake of Sloan's retirement. Even if Sloan skulked off in a rare show of extreme prissiness, we wrote, you still go out of your way to approach Malone at any point before or during the game in order to offer him the best seat you can.
On Saturday, newish Jazz owner Greg Miller took to his own blog to tear into Karl's hypocrisy. Or, as we delicately put it on Friday, Malone "playing the martyr" as he often does. Miller's post, and I'm not sure you're allowed to use this description in Salt Lake City on Sundays, is scathing. And so worth your time, even if it just adds to the pissing match. Which, again, is a thing I'm not sure you're allowed to enjoy on Salt Lake City on Sundays.
Lame and ancient LDS jokes aside, here's a few snippets from Miller's rant:
I've bitten my tongue time and again when Karl has made derogatory comments. I've tried to keep in mind the words of one of my mentors close to the situation who said "Karl Malone is giant pain in the ass, but he's our pain in the ass."
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. Let me explain.
Miller goes on to explain several, um, car dealership-related situations that saw Malone either half-ass or drop out entirely of appearances or hoped-for meetings. On the subject of last year's scalper-situation, Miller is exasperated:
A year ago, when Jerry retired, Karl rushed to Salt Lake City. He got in front of every camera he could find at the first game following Jerry's departure. He positioned himself as an authority on Jerry's departure by saying something like "the Jerry Sloan I know isn't a quitter. He left because he didn't feel wanted." Karl wasn't in the locker room during the conversations with me and Jerry. Had he been, he would have seen me (and my mom) do everything possible to convince Jerry to stay. By his own admission Karl hadn't spoken to Jerry since Jerry left. Karl's comments on the radio and on national television made an already stressful situation worse. Then in his next breath, on national television, Karl asked me to hire him as a coach.
Again, Karl Malone is right and wrong.
Jerry Sloan, by nature, isn't a quitter. He didn't take off once Malone and John Stockton left in the summer of 2003. He never backed down from his offense or shifting NBA tides, including the implementation of increased hand-check surveillance and the subsequent 984 Utah fouls per game that followed in later years. He didn't exactly show teams up, but he didn't pull starters until he thought the game was out of hand. The man was as happy as a pig in slop, apologies for the rural reference, coaching a 61- or 16-win team. Karl is right in this regard.
He's also wrong. Jerry Sloan quit on the Utah Jazz last year. We don't blame him -- the Jazz had apparently created an untenable atmosphere surrounding a disgruntled All-Star that they would end up trading a few weeks later -- but he did quit. He wasn't fired, and he had reason to quit, but the man did quit even after several of his friends and bosses and both pleaded with him to stay.
In the middle of a season, no less, while taking his loyal No. 2 man (assistant coach Phil Johnson) with him. Leaving the Jazz completely in the lurch, whether they deserved it or not. According to every sign we can glean -- and, no, we weren't "in the room" when Jerry was going off -- the management deserved swinging in the lurch eventually. Maybe not in midseason or at the end of a road trip like that, but eventually.
Nobody looks good here. From Sloan to Malone to Deron Williams to Miller to Jazz GM Kevin O'Conner (who is, we should point out, quite good at his job) or to anyone who buys either side as an absolute.
The one thing that I think each of the men mentioned above can agree upon is that absolutely no Jazz fan deserves this sort of mess. They didn't deserve it a year ago, and they certainly don't deserve the sideshow a year later with the Jazz playing fantastic basketball and duking it out for a lower-rung playoff berth in the difficult Western Conference in what is supposed to be a rebuilding year of sorts.
This needs to go away, and soon. Everyone go look at Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Let's let the old millionaires rattle their spurs on their respective ranches for a while, in private.
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- Karl Malone
- Jerry Sloan