Brooklyn, N.Y. • Deron Williams chooses to remember his first 438 games with Jerry Sloan more than the last one.
Nearly three years after a halftime dispute with Williams triggered Sloan’s resignation, the Jazz will raise a banner in the coach’s honor at EnergySolutions Arena during Friday’s game with Golden State.
“A big part of my success early in my career was due to him and the things he kind of instilled in me,” said Williams, who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets. “So I’m definitely happy for him, and it’s going to be a special moment. The fans there just love him to death.”
During that February 2011 game against Chicago, “We got into a little argument — nothing more than we’ve ever done,” Williams told The Salt Lake Tribune, following a tough loss to Toronto at the Barclays Center. “So the way the fans perceive it is just one thing I can’t really control. Like I said, there’s no hard feelings on my end, and I enjoyed playing for him. I miss playing for him.”
Williams was traded to the then-New Jersey Nets, two weeks after Sloan resigned and Tyrone Corbin became the Jazz’s coach.
Brooklyn teammate Andrei Kirilenko played more games (681) for Sloan than any Jazzman, aside from John Stockton or Karl Malone.
“He’s definitely a guy who’s going to be remembered, not only in Salt Lake City, but in all the NBA,” said Kirilenko, who spent 10 years with the Jazz before signing with a Russian team prior to the 2011-12 season. “I had a privilege to play with him. We had our ups and downs, but [Sloan] is the guy who created me.”