Jazz owner refutes Karl Malone

Updated: February 5, 2012, 1:31 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

A war of words has erupted between the owner and CEO of the Utah Jazz and the first-ballot Hall of Famer who fueled the team's golden era.

The most-stinging salvo came Friday night in a blog post written by Greg Miller in which he called Karl Malone "too unreliable and too unstable" to help the team as an assistant coach and claimed the 14-time All-Star and two-time NBA MVP lied to a newspaper about having to use a scalper to purchase tickets to a Jazz game.

The blog followed a scathing Twitter post earlier Friday by Miller, the son of longtime Jazz owner Larry Miller, who died in 2009.

[+] EnlargeGreg Miller
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty ImagesJazz owner Greg Miller calls Karl Malone "too unreliable and too unstable" to help the team as an assistant coach and says the Hall of Famer lied in an interview with a Salt Lake City newspaper.

"Hey Karl - you're lying," Miller wrote on Twitter. "You have my number. Next time you need a seat to a Jazz game, call me. You can have mine."

Miller's reactions came a week after Malone also called out the Jazz for their handling of the Deron Williams-Jerry Sloan feud.

During a radio appearance Jan. 27, Malone said the Jazz gave Williams too much power, and ultimately it was their coach who paid the price.

"I know for a fact that (Sloan) was overridden on practices sometime on the road because Deron was calling our GM (Kevin O'Connor) at that time," Malone said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. " ... You give a guy that much power, and he's the kind of player you think he played hard all the time, but if he wanted to sulk he could sulk ... I never went to (co-owner) Larry (Miller) to talk about Coach Sloan. ... It's not one time, in my gut and heart, that I would go over his head."

But in a statement released by the Jazz on Saturday, Sloan disputed Malone's interpretation of the events surrounding his former coach's departure. Malone played for Sloan from 1988 to 2004.

"I left on my own volition. It is not true that the Millers undermined my authority as head coach," said Sloan, who is also a member of the Hall of Fame. "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."

Malone, speaking Saturday to The Salt Lake Tribune, reiterated his stance of a week ago.

"I expressed what I feel and I don't regret what I said," Malone told the newspaper. "It's what I believe about Coach Sloan."

Miller, in his Friday blog post, had alluded to a history of difficulties in dealing with Malone.

"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," Miller wrote.

Malone That defining moment when (management and ownership) should have stood up for Jerry Sloan, they chose Deron Williams. And Coach Sloan, being the coach I know and love, said, 'You know what? We should part ways.'

-- Karl Malone

Malone, elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 after a 19-year career, helped lead the Jazz to two NBA Finals alongside John Stockton and ranks second in all-time points scored behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Williams and Sloan's relationship began deteriorating last season before Williams was dealt to the New Jersey Nets. It reached a boiling point on Feb. 9, when the pair got into a heated argument at halftime of a loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Williams had gone against Sloan's play calls, and the coach wanted him disciplined, according to previous reports in The Salt Lake Tribune, but Sloan received no support from the organization. Sloan announced his retirement the next day after 23 years in Utah.

"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 in the radio interview.

"That defining moment when (management and ownership) should have stood up for Jerry Sloan, they chose Deron Williams," Malone said. "And Coach Sloan, being the coach I know and love, said, 'You know what? We should part ways.' And he said what he said. And once Coach Sloan says something, it's history."

O'Connor later went on the radio to refute Malone's comments. Williams has also downplayed the event.

"Karl wasn't in the room, I was in the room," O'Connor said, "and the only thing I can tell you is, I'd like you guys to go ask Jerry. Greg (Miller) was in there. He did everything possible with Jerry to make him stay, to have him finish off the season. (Sloan) had complete autonomy to do anything he wanted to do, as far as any kind of punishment.

"The next morning, we'd asked him to sleep on it, and (co-owner) Gail (Miller) came in and both Greg and Gail asked him. So, I can honestly say that there's nothing farther from the truth than those kinds of comments.

"The minute (Sloan) said (he was quitting), we said, 'Don't do it.' ... What I know is, I was in every meeting. I heard every sentence, every word, and I can tell you what transpired. I would love for you to go speak to Jerry and to (assistant coach) Phil Johnson & and ask them these questions."

Information from ESPNNewYork.com was used in this report.