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“One, two, three, good luck!” - Raja Bell will never forget how Jerry Sloan let the Jazz know he was quitting as head coach

By Shane Garry Acedera,


Jerry Sloan’s departure from the Utah Jazz in 2011 was unexpected and controversial. The longtime head coach quit his job midseason, leaving many questions unanswered. Former Jazz player Raja Bell explained what happened that fateful night. Per Bell’s account, Sloan decided he would retire after the team lost a game and informed them of his decision inside the locker room.

“We have a thing in Utah where you bring it in after (and) everybody says “One, two, three, Jazz”. So we rang it in, and Jerry Sloan, livid. He goes “One, two, three, good luck.” And I look, everyone looked around, like, what the f**k, what the, did he just say good luck?”

“Next morning, I come in for treatment. Jerry Sloan has already announced his resignation. At 8:30 in the morning. I’ll be there on time. He’s been there since 7:30 and has announced his resignation. I didn’t see him again the rest of the season.”

Sloan and D-Will had a halftime altercation

It was February 9, 2011, and the Utah Jazz faced the Chicago Bulls. During the game, per Bell’s account, Sloan called a play called 4-up, but Deron Williams changed it to 4-down, which was basically the same play but from the opposite side. After that, Bell said he noticed Sloan upset, and that suspicion was confirmed at halftime when Sloan confronted Williams.

Sloan told D-Will to give him the courtesy by letting him know he was deviating from his instructions. Williams reportedly said something like, “ You have the power, I have the juice. ” The two then started yelling at each other across the hallway. Later, Jazz owner Greg Williams joined the two at the back, talking but still yelling.

Meanwhile, Williams’ version of the story said that Williams acknowledged his mistake during their conversation and said, “ My bad ”. But he also said that if Williams didn’t go after Sloan after the coach called him out, Sloan might have never left. But he did, and that was the last time Jerry Sloan coached an NBA game.

Sloan had agreed to return to his 24th season as head coach

Jerry Sloan took over the Utah coaching reigns when Frank Layden was promoted to president in 1988. With the superstar duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton, he led the Jazz to 16 consecutive playoff appearances, six division titles, and 10 seasons with 50 or more regular season wins. He also took the Jazz to the NBA Finals twice in 1997 and 1998, losing both times to the Chicago Bulls.

Before the incident with Williams, Sloan had agreed to a contract extension and coached the Jazz during the 2011-12 season, which would have been his 24th as the team’s head coach. But he never made it past the 2011 campaign. He eventually returned to the Jazz as an adviser and scouting consultant in 2013 with D-Will no longer with the team.

A couple of weeks after Sloan’s sudden retirement, Deron Williams was traded to the New Jersey Nets. In 2012, he signed a $98 million deal to remain with the Nets. However, things quickly went downhill for D-Will after he left Salt Lake City. A combination of injuries and inconsistent play saw him get traded to Dallas and Cleveland before retiring early at 32.

Related: “I held that grudge” — The specific incident that triggered Deron Williams to take things personally against Jerry Sloan

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