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Three Jazz confrontations rival D-Will vs. Sloan
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Deron Williams argues with coach Jerry Sloan.

Sloan and top assistant Phil Johnson resign.

Is this is the most significant confrontation in Utah Jazz history?

Perhaps, depending on whether it actually caused Sloan's resignation and what now happens to Williams and his team.

There are, however, three other worthy contenders for the title of "Most Significant Confrontation in Franchise History":

1. Layden vs. Dantley • On March 7, 1986, Adrian Dantley scored 36 points in a 105-103 win at Phoenix.

During the game, rookie Karl Malone kept missing free throws.

Picture Kyrylo Fesenko.

At one point, coach Frank Layden yelled at Malone, who yelled back at Layden. Then Dantley told Layden to lay off.

Layden began shouting at Dantley in an argument that continued in the locker room after the game.

Dantley was sent home and eventually fined 30 dimes — a biblical reference to being a traitor.

The incident continued to erode the relationship between Dantley and Layden, who, a year earlier, had battled during a contract holdout.

Within six months, the Jazz traded Dantley, a future Hall of Famer.

Layden lasted another 192 games as Utah's head coach before Sloan replaced him.

It took two decades for Dantley and Layden to resume a cordial relationship.

Significant?

You tell me.

2. Miller vs. Babich • The Jazz owned a 3-1 lead on Denver in the 1994 Western Conference semifinals.

But Utah was playing poorly in Game 4 and, at halftime, owner Larry Miller was livid.

Supposedly, he tried to join the Jazz in the locker room but was asked to stay away. So he stewed next door, in the training room.

When he returned to his courtside seat, Miller claimed someone in a group of nearby Denver fans shoved him.

Moments later, Miller waded into the crowd.

Photographers, on the alert because of his halftime demeanor, snapped shots that were distributed worldwide just as Miller grabbed Nuggets fan Rich Babich.

Nobody was hurt, and Miller apologized a few days later.

Still, the distracted Jazz lost Game 4 in double overtime.

Utah eventually beat Denver in seven taxing games.

Worn out and with Malone weakened by the flu, however, the Jazz had no chance against Houston in the conference finals.

3. Checketts vs. Miller • On the recommendation of NBA commissioner David Stern, the Jazz hired David Checketts as executive vice president in 1983.

Within three years, however, Larry Miller owned the team.

Even though he had been promoted and become team president and general manager, Checketts' job began to change.

He went from decision-maker to someone mostly asked to execute Miller's instructions.

On June 1, 1989, he resigned.

During the next two decades, Miller and Checketts were extremely successful.

With Miller as the hands-on owner, the Jazz became perennial contenders.

Checketts ended up running the New York Knicks before becoming owner of the NHL's St. Louis Blues and Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake.

But what would have happened if Miller and Checketts had been a cooperating team in Utah?

Interesting thought.

luhm@sltrib.com

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