After Karl Malone responded defiantly Saturday to a scathing blog post by Utah Jazz CEO Greg Miller, fellow Hall of Famer John Stockton suggested the two need to call a quick truce.
If the verbal sparring continues, Stockton feared it might “tarnish” what the organization accomplished during the Jazz’s decade of championship contention in the 1990s.
“I’ve certainly been in disputes with people as close to me as my brother,” Stockton said from his home in Spokane, Wash. “You get after it and say a lot of things.
“But I have never seen one [disagreement] that couldn’t be resolved by sitting down and talking to a person face to face. It has always worked for me.”
With Malone and Stockton as the foundation, the Jazz reached two NBA Finals and three Western Conference finals between 1992 and 1998.
Malone remains the No. 2 scorer in league history. Stockton is the all-time leader in assists and steals.
“What we all shared is so special,” Stockton said. “I just hope this can be resolved, because it was a special time for me and for everyone. I’d hate to see anything outside the lines … ever come back and tarnish it.”
Earlier in the day, Malone did not back down from comments he’d made about Jazz management’s handling of ex-coach Jerry Sloan’s retirement nearly one year ago.
Malone contacted The Salt Lake Tribune to respond to Miller, who tweeted Friday that the two-time Most Valuable Player was dishonest.
Miller later wrote in his blog that Malone was “unreliable” and “unstable.” He also detailed a list of personal grievances with Malone, some of which date back years.
Malone replied: “I expressed what I feel, and I don’t regret what I said. It’s what I believe about coach Sloan.”
Malone deferred further comment until he had a chance to speak with Miller in person.
“We’ve all become very brave when we’re tweeting, texting, blogging,” he said. “We just write and press send. I don’t have time for that.
“Don’t tweet it, don’t blog it, don’t text it — give me a little human element. … I’m in town two or three times a month. Until I see him face to face, there won’t be any more comment about Greg Miller.”
In his blistering Twitter post, Miller said Malone was dishonest about being unable to get a game ticket: “Hey Karl — you’re lying. You have my number. Next time you need a seat to a Jazz game, call me. You can have mine.”
Malone had previously claimed he was forced to buy a ticket from a scalper to attend the Jazz game following Sloan’s retirement announcement.
Miller’s blog heavily criticized that declaration, saying, “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.”
The war of words initially exploded last Friday, when Malone called out Miller and Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor for their involvement in Sloan’s resignation, saying he believed they undermined the longtime coach.
“On the whole handling of that, I would have to give [them] a ‘D’ or ‘F’ and I would lean more toward an ‘F,’ ” Malone said.
O’Connor refuted Malone’s version of events in a lengthy rebuttal and, on Saturday, he said: “The thing I want to concentrate on is the statement that was released today from Jerry. I think it was consistent with everything [the Jazz] have said. … It’s accurate.”
O’Connor referred to a statement released by the team from Sloan, who spoke of unwavering support from the Miller family at the time of his resignation.
“I left on my own volition,” the statement read. “It is not true that the Millers undermined my authority as head coach. I had their complete backing to run the team as I wished and was assured that no player could ever overrule my decisions.
“The Millers encouraged me to stay with the team and gave me multiple opportunities to do so. They felt strongly that I should wait at least until the end of the season to resign and did everything they could to keep me coaching.”
When contacted by The Tribune, Sloan declined further comment.
The Tribune’s Brian T. Smith, Danyelle White, Eric Walden and Michael Anastasi contributed to this story.