After repeated clashes with star point guard Deron Williams(notes) and a belief he had become undermined with ownership, Jerry Sloan resigned as the Utah Jazz coach after 23 seasons, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The increasingly contentious relationship between Sloan and Williams boiled over when they clashed at halftime of a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. The showdown between Sloan and Williams became so heated on Wednesday, at least two Jazz players feared that the coach and star could come to blows – even though the confrontation ended before reaching that point.
Sloan, 68, had agreed to a one-year contract extension in the past week but his growing frustration became public after a long meeting with Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor following the team's loss to the Bulls in Salt Lake City.
Sloan, the NBA's longest-tenured coach, and his longtime assistant, Phil Johnson, resigned together on Thursday.
Sloan's relationship with 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."
One source said Sloan had become tired of Williams "blaming everything on everyone else." Still, Williams, who can become a free agent in the summer of 2012, has remained the Jazz's best and most consistent player after the departure of several key teammates. Williams has always had a reputation for wanting to win badly and being a strong leader.
After feeling undermined, one source said Sloan told Jazz owner Greg Miller that if this is how he wanted to run a franchise, he could do it without him as coach.
Assistant coach Ty Corbin has been named acting head coach, and league sources expect the team will move to secure him as Sloan's long-term replacement in the near future.