Jerry Sloan is a legend. Deron Williams is not.
After 26 seasons with the Utah Jazz organization, 23 of which as head coach, Jerry Sloan stepped aside earlier today, to the surprise of almost everybody.
In reality, we all should have seen it coming, especially after Deron Williams' performance last night against the Chicago Bulls.
In twenty-three years of watching Jerry Sloan basketball, I'd never seen Jerry's floor leader quit in the last few minutes of the game, until last night.
I don't think Jerry had seen anything quite like it either.
Over the past two decades Jerry Sloan has always demanded nothing but the best effort from his players, and for the most part he got it, making him one of the all-time greatest coaches in the history of the game.
When players didn't give him 100 percent, they usually found themselves on the next plane out of town.
It was Jerry's way, or no way at all, and that's how us loyal fans in Utah preferred it. Because we always knew that when we watched the Jazz play, at the very least, we were going to see Jerry get the most out of his players, however limited they might be in the talent department.
This coaching philosophy peaked in the late 90's when Jerry had his most experienced, loyal, and talented guys.
Those were his greatest years, led by arguably the two toughest players to ever lace 'em up in John Stockton and Karl Malone.
However, things began to change with the retirements of Stockton and Malone. A new generation of players were taking over the league.
These new players were talented, flashy, and great, but they made more money than ever before, and seemed to lack the heart, effort and dependability as their predecessors.
However, the one constant in Utah was the old school head coach, and Jazz fans held out hope that Sloan could somehow mold this new generation of players into men of a bygone era.
When the Jazz drafted Williams and picked up Boozer, fans were cautiously optimistic that maybe these two, under the direction of Sloan, could pick up where Stockton and Malone left off.
Maybe that was unfair to D-Will and Booz, but the expectations of Jazz fans were what they were.
Jerry tried his best, and although D-Will and Boozer may have been giving their best for a brief time, it just didn't relate to playoff success.
This year, however, was the breaking point, as Boozer chased more money in Chicago, and D-Will murmured about the Jazz front office decisions and the lack of talent around him.
When the current season started, even with the acquisition of Al Jefferson, things just didn't seem right on the basketball court, and it started with D-Will.
D-Will had changed, and it was evident right from the get-go.
Who can forget his early season antics when he threw a hard baseball pass at Gordon Hayward's head from ten feet away, simply because the rookie didn't go where D-Will wanted him to go.
He followed that up by yelling at Hayward as the two walked off the floor.
It certainly was a sign that D-Will's frustrations were deepening.
His lack of leadership in that situation was shocking, and don't think Jazz fans didn't take notice.
Later during this season, D-Will began to whine in the press about how this group of players didn't know the Jazz offense as well as players from years before.
He began to openly reminisce about years past, and how things were much better with his past Jazz teammates.
What positive did D-Will think would come out of openly dissing his current teammates?
Why didn't he instead help mentor and teach these new guys the offense?
It may be true that this new group of guys isn't as efficient at running the offense, but why whine about it in the press?
And who is D-Will wanting back?
The same Boozer who sat out last year's season finale against Denver with the Division Championship on the line? A game in which the Jazz lost, and Boozer all the sudden was 100 percent a day later?
Well if that's what D-Will wants back, maybe he can join him Chicago.
Oh wait, he can't, Derrick Rose is already there and proved last night that he is twice the floor leader Deron is right now.
To Jerry Sloan's credit, and true to form, he left the moment he knew he was no longer in control. It is no coincidence, that Jerry walked straight into GM Kevin O'Connor's office and offered his resignation seconds after the Jazz lost to the Bulls in pathetic fashion.
It was a game in which D-Will defiantly called his own plays, and carelessly turned the ball over on the final three plays of the game.
And while Jazz fans scratched there heads in amazement, they watched a seemingly unaffected D-Will exchange a hug with Boozer before he walked off the floor.
For long-time Jazz fans it seemed surreal, even the Jazz's opponent had three former Jazz players sticking it to them, a sign that the game was no longer about player loyalty and dependability, but rather, where players could chase the most money with free agency.
However, in all the madness that's been the last 24 hours, there was one last act of old school loyalty that has gone largely overlooked.
Long-time Jazz assistant Phil Johnson was loyal until the end. Having been told many times by Jazz management that the head coaching job would be his when Jerry decided to retire, Phil, to the surprise of even Jerry Sloan, walked away from that job opportunity and followed his long time friend into retirement.
Now that's loyalty.
I don't know how D-Will ever recovers from this here in Utah.
How does one by his actions, force Utah's most loyal and beloved coach to resign mid-season and then go about things as if they never happened?
If D-Will wants to do his own thing, so be it, let him follow Boozer and go the way of free agency, because the truth is, when Jerry resigned, Utah's hopes of winning a championship disappeared.
After all, it takes champions to win a championship, and Jerry Sloan was the last champion we had.
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