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Playing Now at a Theater Near You: As Salt Lake City Turns

February 4, 2012

You guys….we are SO attractive to free agents right now!!

What I’m going to do is recap only what has happened (sans commentary) since Karl Malone’s interview on 1280, and then leave my commentary/questions/clarifications/context for the end for those that care to read it.

Act 1: (January 28) Karl Malone interview on The Zone.

Act 2: (January 30) Brad Rock blog post on DN:

Malone came to Utah for the Phoenix game last year, right after Sloan quit. He said he actually made inquiries through the Jazz for tickets but was told none were available. (1) He ended up buying tickets from a scalper.

Act 3: (January 31) Kevin O’Connor interview on The Zone:

[On Karl’s belief that Jerry felt undermined by management] Karl wasn’t in the room. I was in the room, and the only thing I can tell you is I’d like you guys to go ask Jerry (2) because…Greg [Miller] did everything possible to speak to Jerry to make him stay and make him finish out the season…the last thing was we asked him to sleep on it and Gail [Miller] came in and both Gail and Greg asked him. (3) So I can honestly say that there’s nothing further from the truth than those kind of comments.

[Karl is in regular contact with Jerry…and he characterized it like Jerry got mad, and then he laid down that he was going to leave, and then nobody from that point on could talk him out of it.] I don’t even understand that question.

[Does it concern you at all that the fans have a hard time buying the official party line?] I could care less. I know what the official party line or whatever you like to call it is, and I know what transpired and I know what happened. It’s impossible for me to care what anybody would say or think. If you use common sense, which sometimes people don’t do, how many days later did we trade Deron? (4) So if it was really a situation where somebody felt undercut or somebody felt undermined, and that we picked the player over the coach, that’s ridiculous.

Sidebar: (KOC, minutes after saying that Karl was lying)

[on SLC not being a free agent destination] You look at guys like a Karl Malone, like a John Stockton, who came to Utah, who stayed, who played. One of the things that I think is never brought up enough is the number of games that they played in and number of games that they missed, the two of them combined. It’s a phenomenal record I don’t think that’ll be touched even probably by one guy on a team, much less two. (5)

Act 4: (February 2) Gordon Monson article in the Trib:

What happened to Sloan had festered inside Malone for long enough. In the immediate aftermath, he came to Utah to express concern (6), buying his own ticket to the next game at EnergySolutions Arena via a scalper because the Jazz had told him there were no tickets available for him, and spoke to reporters. (1)

I have asked both Sloan and Johnson, and they refused to comment. (7)

Act 5: (February 3) Phil Johnson interview on KFAN:

[on Monson article] It’s very discouraging when I read things that says that someone talked to me about an article, and they didn’t call…[Monson] said that I had refused comment on the article, and I was never called about the article. (7)

This is my feeling. The Utah Jazz were first class in the way that I was treated, and as far as I know, with both [Jerry and I] through our stay with the Utah Jazz. There was no incident or anything that the Utah Jazz forced either one of us out.

[What led to Jerry’s resignation] was a long process. It wasn’t one night. It was a series of things through the course of the year…That night was a little different for sure. But the Millers were great. They said, why don’t you just think about it tonight and sleep on it overnight. Come back in the morning, we’ll meet again. So that’s the way it transpired.

[Jerry] may want to coach again. I don’t think it has anything to do with how he resigned here. (8)

[Is Karl’s relationship with the organization really poor?] I can’t comment on that.

[Management/ownership] offered the job to me that night to be the head coach when Jerry left, and I really didn’t want the job. I passed up money and I passed up fame…because I knew what I really wanted, and that was to not go on with the season. (9) (10)

Intermission: (February 2)

(H/T @pjmorgan11 via BYU Cougar Basketball’s FB)

Act 6: (February 3) Greg Miller Tweets (11)

Act 7: Ty Corbin’s Agent Tweets & Cameo from Steve Luhm (12)

Steve Luhm provides a little bit of perspective on just who this guy is:

Act 8: (February 3) Gordon Monson Tweets

Act 9: (February 3) Deron Williams Comments (13)

(Brian C. Mahoney is an NBA writer for the Associated Press.)

Act 10: (February 3) Greg Miller Blogs

I have always believed in taking the high road and addressing my grievances in private. I have always remained silent relative to the media on those types of issues for that reason. (14) However, when Karl Malone recently made comments about how he was treated by the Utah Jazz when he attended a Utah Jazz game last season, he crossed a line. (15)

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. Some would argue that he could coach our big men. I would love to have Karl inspire them and teach him how to be warriors like he was. That can’t happen. Karl is too unreliable and too unstable. (16)

Greg cites some examples of how Karl is unreliable and unstable:
–Unreliable: Karl once arrived at an autograph session half an hour late in the 1990s.
–Unreliable: Karl cancelled/blew off three lunch appointments with Greg over the years.
–Unstable and unreliable: Karl was once cold to Greg at the beginning of a meeting. Later in the meeting, he warmed up. Two days later, he cancelled a lunch appointment.

A year ago, when Jerry retired, Karl rushed to Salt Lake City. He got in front of every camera he could find at the first game following Jerry’s departure. (17) He positioned himself as an authority on Jerry’s departure by saying something like “the Jerry Sloan I know isn’t a quitter. He left because he didn’t feel wanted.”… Then in his next breath, on national television, Karl asked me to hire him as a coach. (18)

Earlier tonight I sent out the following tweet relative to Karl’s claim that he had to buy a ticket to that Jazz game from a scalper because he couldn’t get one from the Jazz: “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.” All three statements are true. (19)

Karl, I’m not sure where or how our relationship became so sour. I wish it was otherwise. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you in any way. I’d love to do whatever I can to mend the fence and make you feel welcome at Jazz games. I would love to have you as an ambassador for the Utah Jazz. You have a standing invitation to do both. (20)

(1) The part about the Jazz telling Karl Malone there were no tickets available was not broadcast in the interview, so either Karl told Monson and Rock that off-air, or Monson and Rock misinterpreted what Karl said. What Karl did say on-air was that he got his tickets to the game from a scalper, and called it a “miscommunication” with the Jazz. Direct quote from him on that night (February 12, 2011):

“I got my own tickets, the Jazz was gracious enough to let me park in the back, I appreciate that, and I’m gonna sit here and watch this game and enjoy the game.”

(2) Let’s say that the perception held by some–that Jerry felt undermined by the Jazz, and this built up over a season and eventually led to his resignation–is true. If I were KOC, I’d also confidently say “Go ask Jerry” because I know he’s not going to talk. Jerry is no Phil Jackson. He’s not going to write a book about it; he’s not going to throw anyone under the bus; he has no history of airing his dirty laundry out in public.

(3) No one is disputing the fact that Gail and Greg Miller asked Jerry to stay when he said he was resigning. However, KOC is choosing to only address what happened after Jerry said he was resigning. He is not saying anything about the build-up leading to Jerry’s decision, which was the actual question posed to him.

On Greg’s request for Jerry to finish out the season: This is, in Greg’s own words, how he asked Jerry:

“Jerry, do you realize if you leave right now that it’s going to cause a lot of drama, that those of us who are still with the team have to deal with and manage?”

(4) The Jazz front office has said from Day 1 that Deron was traded because they did not feel he was going to re-sign with the Jazz. Greg cited his “gut sense” (DN); KOC cited in this same interview “vibrations that we were getting and the body language and everything else that we felt that we would be in a better position not to run the risk/reward of trying to keep him.” If this is the case, referencing the Deron trade as evidence that he was not involved in Jerry’s resignation makes no sense.

(5) Well, this was pretty interesting to say the least, and not only because KOC cited Karl as an example of how a non-free agent destination franchise can succeed minutes after accusing him of lying. In his 1280 interview, Karl said when John Stockton retired and he was pondering his own future, “Without a doubt, I did not feel [the Jazz] wanted me. I knew it wasn’t Gail, I knew it wasn’t Larry, I knew it wasn’t Greg. But they also listen to people that say, ‘Look, here’s the time to move on.'” He later identified one of those people as Kevin O’Connor. So to use Karl as an example of free agents staying long-term with a franchise…

(6) If I recall correctly, Karl said at the time that he wasn’t at the game because of what had happened with Jerry, and that his trip was pre-planned. His kids were also with him at the game.

Edit: I recalled correctly. Karl that night: “It’s just a coincidence [that I’m here]. I don’t come to that many games, and my kids out of school. I already told a couple of my kids we come to the game. Then this happened. I wasn’t not going to come to the game [because of it].”

(7) FWIW, I read it as Monson saying that he had tried talking to Jerry and Phil in the past about what happened and had received a “no comment,” rather than having requested comment from Phil on the article.

(8) Question: Does anyone believe in their heart of hearts Jerry would have preferred to go somewhere else to finish his career? Or would his first choice have been, had it been afforded to him, to retire with the Jazz?

(9) Wait a second. The Jazz offered Phil the job the night Jerry said he was resigning? Then how was it a “don’t decide now, sleep on it” situation? Phil can’t be talking about the following night (day of the press conference), because they had already announced Ty Corbin as head coach by then.

(10) Let me preface this by saying, lest anyone get the wrong idea, that I have the greatest respect for Phil Johnson.

This interview was aired on KFAN. Phil Johnson is employed by KFAN, which is owned by LHM Group. I am not insinuating anything or drawing any conclusions here; I am merely stating fact. Another fact: The day Jerry and Phil announced their resignations, Phil talked about continuing his career with the organization (“but not any place else”) in a different capacity.

He also said on the day he resigned:

“I can’t do something for money. I’ve got to believe that I can do the very best I can and I feel like this is the time…You have to live with yourself and you have to know that you’re capable and right now I don’t think that I could give the Jazz everything they need.”

(11) First of all, this tweet was not befitting behavior from an NBA owner.

Second, Karl was never going to see this. He’s not on Twitter. What was the point of doing it this way if this is what you want to say to him? If this message is really for Karl and not so everyone can see you calling him a liar, why don’t you call him instead?

Third, what is Greg accusing Karl of lying about? From the second and third sentences, it appears his accusation of Karl being a liar centers on how Karl secured his tickets for that night’s game (first game of the post-Jerry Sloan era). In the 1280 interview, Karl says that he got his tickets from a scalper. He did not say anything about being turned down by the Jazz. When asked whether having to get tickets from a scalper was “a sign of disrespect,” Karl said it was a “miscommunication.”

Look, if you’re going to post tweets like this, at least get your facts straight about who said what and who’s lying (if anyone is). Also, see (1).

(12) So now we have Ty Corbin’s agent calling Karl a liar while also saying he might be telling the truth. That’s a first. Also, to say that Karl has an agenda at this point is funny because as Ty Corbin’s agent, don’t you have one too? This is pretty clear when in the middle of several negative comments about Karl, you make a point to refer to Kevin O’Connor (who employs your client) as “one of League’s best GMs.”

Furthermore, can anyone argue this?

(13) This is not a comment on Deron’s comment. More just a thought from me: In Karl’s interview, he talked about his belief that Deron played a role in Jerry’s resignation but also said a ton of nice things about Deron as a player and his work in the community. I’m guessing no one bothered/had the time to tell Deron about that part.

(14) The entire post you wrote begs to differ. Also, this entire post centers on reported versions of Karl’s scalper comment. As with KOC, nothing about the events leading up to Jerry’s resignation was denied or addressed.

(15) (See (11)). Again, please get your facts straight about who said what before making accusations. Karl never said, in the on-air part of the interview that was broadcast, anything about the Jazz turning down a request for tickets.

Both Greg Miller and Kevin O’Connor have tried to discredit Karl throughout this saga by saying that he “wasn’t in the room” when Jerry resigned. Unless Greg was at Karl’s used car outlet when the interview was conducted, he was likewise “not in the room.”

(16) This was petty and vindictive. Again, not fitting behavior from an NBA owner of a franchise that likes to boast about “doing things right.” Karl has said a ton of things, but at the very least he has never stooped to personal attacks. Also, Karl was late to an autograph signing in the 1990s? He canceled lunch a decade ago? Wow, that’s been a festering pustule for some time.

(17) I thought this statement was somewhat unfair. First of all, Karl did not “rush to Salt Lake City” (see (6)). Karl did talk to the media, yes, but did he seek out the media, or did the media seek him out? If he wanted to talk and no one wanted to listen, there would be no record of his comments that night.

Also, you know, there’s this:

For the record, one of the first things he said when the media session began was that he hadn’t responded to any calls from reporters over the past day because he didn’t want to give over-emotional answers.

(18) Regarding Greg’s statement on Karl asking to be hired, here is the direct quote from Karl that night:

The coach I know and the man I know have never quit or resigned in anything. That’s what I want to say, and at some point in my life, I will carry his legacy on in some form of coaching, and that’s a promise.

Other quotes from the same interview:
–I would be honored if I will be mentioned as a coach at some point in time, but I don’t think it’s the time right now.
–I’m not asking for a job.
–They changed the floor back to old school. They changed the uniform back to old school. Somebody tell the damn players to start playing like in old school…I’m just calling it like I see it. So that’s what I wanted to say. But I don’t think I be a good fit right now.

(19) Again, unless you were at the used car outlet during the interview, you cannot say the first statement is true. See (1), (11), and (15).

(20) This was a nice message from Greg.

You take what Karl Malone says with a grain of salt, not because he has an agenda or wants to create drama, but because he is defending and sticking up for his family the way I think any of us would in the same situation. He believes that someone he loves was wronged (a conclusion he arrived at through talking to Jerry Sloan and maybe others), and is speaking out on their behalf. The foundation of all this is Karl’s loyalty to Jerry.

Tell me any of us would act differently if we were in his shoes. Say your dad has worked for a company for decades and played a key role in turning it into a hugely successful venture, but then along comes a young hotshot who undermines him over the course of months, and the boss sides with him. You used to but no longer have ties with the company, and you have not spoken with the boss. What you know, you heard from your dad. Would you just shrug and say, “Oh well, it is what it is” and that’s the end of it for you?

In a way, it’s like what happened with Earl Watson and Dirk Nowitzki in the Dallas game. Earl saw Dirk hit the ball out of Derrick Favors’ hands. Derrick was taken aback and seemed unsure how to react, and Earl went over and did the same thing to Dirk. Not because he was trying to start a fight or get tossed. He was simply defending and protecting his own.

Karl doesn’t want anything from the team and the moment he opened his mouth the game after Jerry’s resignation, any potential future with the Utah Jazz was over. He knows this. “You can’t beat a fart out of a dead mule.” He doesn’t have any reason to lie or make stuff up. He’s not going to be the most objective person out there, but all he’s doing is sticking up for a coach he loves.

Management and ownership are now the ones rehashing and keeping this thing alive. In my opinion, they would have been better served staying quiet and letting people think, “Oh, there goes Karl again. Shooting his mouth off as usual.” Instead, publicly calling him a liar and complaining about Karl arriving late at an autograph session during the last century serves no purpose other than to make the front office look bad. Again, my opinion.

Karl Malone did more for the Utah Jazz than anyone not named Larry H. Miller, Jerry Sloan, and John Stockton in history, but at this point he has no ties to the franchise and is essentially a member of the public stating his opinion. Not so for management and ownership.

You guys….we are SO attractive to free agents right now!!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    February 5, 2012 12:42 am

    Wow. Looks like Greg Miller and Dan Gilbert must be best buds now. Such a petty blog post. Let’s be honest, do you really want Karl Malone around our players? He’s not a reliable guy. And do you honestly think he wouldn’t undermine Coach Corbin? He’s a loose cannon. If the players really think they can learn something from him they can seek him out in the offseason like Dwight and Kobe did with Hakeem Olajuwon. Even so, I don’t think Greg Miller handled this situation in a professional manner.

  2. Jazzed permalink
    February 5, 2012 2:13 am

    Awesome – all I could think is, “Gregg Miller is a dumb ass.” And this lays out as to why. Fantastic job Moni. Tremendous.

  3. SurlyMae permalink
    February 5, 2012 7:24 am

    4 THUMBS UP!! (mine & Wright’s).

  4. Chisel McSue permalink
    February 5, 2012 1:32 pm

    holy schmoley, that’s quite a lot of reading in 1 stop.

    i have to agree with Peter, Karl is just not coaching material, not even in big man coach capacity.

    this whole situation, pretty bad for any watching one of the greatest franchise’s player “clash” with the management.

    Jerry Sloan resignation, i dont think we will ever get to the bottom of this. in my mind, the only way we can know what really happens is when AK is old and grizzled and some NBA reporter go up to mother russia and ask him what really transpired back then. with old age and noone to offend/open old wounds, a much older AK might loosen up his tongue and spill out what really happens.

  5. JazzFann permalink
    February 5, 2012 3:09 pm

    Lie cheat and the rest just to get more web hits eh Monson? What good does it do to stir up a bunch of crap over trivial matters? All you contributed to was ruining the Jazz’s image. You’ll be out of a job when you can’t run your tabloid version of the news about the Jazz if our team gets sold. Solid work on hurting our team. Leave hollywood to the Lakers, let’s just focus on the game.

  6. Kyle permalink
    February 7, 2012 4:10 am

    This was really well done, good job Moni.

  7. February 7, 2012 6:00 am

    great read, tons of info and both sides are presented well to give the reader a choice to see where they stand. I still dont really know what I think about this entire incident but just pray a book comes out about it someday.


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