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Malone responds to Miller’s criticism; Sloan issues statement

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(Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) Karl Malone talks to reporters about Jerry Sloan's resignation before the Jazz game against the Phoenix Suns on Friday, February 11, 2011.

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 03 2012 11:49PM
Updated Feb 4, 2012 09:08PM

Karl Malone did not back off on Saturday from comments he had made about Jazz management’s handling of Jerry Sloan’s retirement nearly one year ago. Sloan, meanwhile, issued a statement on Saturday in which he said he had the Millers’ full support during his tenure.

Malone contacted The Salt Lake Tribune to respond to Jazz CEO Greg Miller, who tweeted on Friday evening that Malone was dishonest and later wrote in his blog that Malone was "unreliable" and "unstable." Miller also wrote that Malone was "extremely generous" and cited his many contributions to the Jazz and the community. However, he detailed a list of grievances against the Hall of Famer dating back a number of years.

"I expressed what I feel and I don’t regret what I said," Malone told The Tribune on Saturday. "It’s what I believe about Coach Sloan."

Last Friday, Malone called out Miller and Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor for their involvement in Sloan’s February 2011 resignation, saying he believed they undermined the longtime Utah 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.

"Karl wasn’t in the room, I was in the room," O’Connor said in part.

Sloan, also a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, said through a statement released by the team on Saturday that he had the unwavering support of the Miller family.

"I left on my own volition. 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," Sloan’s statement said. "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.

"I do not wish to make any further statements regarding this issue. It is time for me and my family to move on and I ask that the media respect my wishes and respect the integrity of the Miller family and all that they have done for the Utah Jazz and this community."

Malone said he would defer further comment about Miller until he had a chance to speak with him in person.

"We’ve all become very brave when we’re tweeting, texting, blogging. We just write and press send. I don’t have time for that," Malone said.

"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. ... He’ll see me again."

In the 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," Miller said via his account at 6:33 p.m. Malone had told The Tribune he had to buy a ticket from a scalper to attend the Jazz game following Sloan’s retirement announcement.

Miller’s follow-up blog heavily criticized Malone, 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."

Malone played 18 years for the Jazz, teaming with John Stockton to carry Utah to two NBA Finals appearances.

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