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SALT LAKE CITY — After 22-plus years, the Jerry Sloan Era has come to an unexpected end in Utah.
The Hall of Famer, who had the longest tenure of coaches in major U.S. professional sports, has resigned from the head coaching job he's held with the Utah Jazz since 1988, a source confirmed to KSL.
Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that Jazz point guard Deron Williams called his own play during Wednesday's loss to the Chicago Bulls, instead of the play Sloan called from the sideline.
The action led to a halftime incident between Williams and Sloan and a post-game discussion with Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor.
ESPN's sources said this was only one of a series recent events between the coach and the star player.
Longtime assistant coach Phil Johnson will also exit with Sloan, who was in his 23rd season with the Jazz.
The Jazz have called a press conference for 3 p.m. this afternoon but a spokeswoman would not confirm any details of Sloan's resignation or any potential replacements. NBA-TV planned on carrying the press conference live.
It is unknown who will replace Sloan as the Jazz's bench boss.
Utah's coaching staff under Sloan also consisted of former NBA player Tyrone Corbin and Scott Layden, who was the general manager of the New York Knicks prior to rejoining the Jazz.
This news comes after the Jazz lost to Chicago at EnergySolutions Arena on Wednesday, with ex-Jazz players Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer helping the Bulls escape Utah with a 91-86 win.
After the game, Sloan didn't come out of his office for a postgame interview until more than a half-hour after his team lost for the 10th time in 14 games. Utah has struggled lately, falling to 31-23 after a 15-5 start.
Sloan usually talks to reporters between 5-10 minutes after the final buzzer, but he had been in a discussion with general manager Kevin O'Connor.
"We just had something we had to discuss," Sloan said, "and we'll talk to you all later on about that."
Speculation was that the Jazz were talking about a trade.
The shocking resignation came two days after the 68-year-old Sloan confirmed that he had signed a one-year extension to remain the Jazz's head coach through the 2011-12 season.
Sloan became the Jazz head coach on Dec. 9, 1988, taking over for Frank Layden after he called it quits early that season and took a position in the front office.
Since that time, Sloan has had one of the most successful tenures in NBA coaching history.
His Jazz teams won 1,127 games under his guidance and made it to the NBA Finals twice, led by fellow Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Sloan is third most-winningest coach in NBA history.
He was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 alongside Stockton.
Sloan, who began his coaching career with the Chicago Bulls (1979-82), leaves his position having racked up a record of 1,221-803, trailing only Don Nelson (1,335-1,063) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332-1,155).
In a time of quick-trigger coach firings, a total of 245 coaching changes were made during Sloan's tenure with the Jazz.
Johnson, a former NBA coach of the year, had been the Jazz's lead assistant since right after Sloan took over in 1988.
Immediate reaction from some fans was mixed.
Liu Vakapuna, 25, first reacted: "He's just going to give up on the team?" Then said, "It would be bittersweet for me, because he's been here so long."
"It's upsetting because he's such a legend," said Lonny Garbrick, 25. "He's been on top for so long, it seems crazy to think of the team without him."
One 17-year-old in front of the Fanzz store at the Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City had a different take: "I think it's time for a change to get some new blood. I think Ty Corbin will take on the role nicely."
Chris Hooiman, 23, said, "I think they'll be better off. It's a good thing to get some new blood in there." Hooiman disagreed that Corbin was the best option, however, preferring someone entirely new to the Jazz.
Utah lawmakers were buzzing about the news, with one member of the House GOP caucus saying in disbelief, Is that true?
House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, said he wishes Sloan well.
I think hes an icon. Save for the Miller family, he has done more for sports in Utah than anyone I can think of, Dee said, describing Sloans style as disciplinary of the first caliber, and I like that in a coach. If you played for the Jazz, you toed the line.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said in a prepared statement that Sloan is "a treasure not only to all of us in Salt Lake City, but to fans throughout the entire basketball community. His skill, determination and boundless work ethic are legendary. We have been lucky to witness Coach Sloans work on and off the court. We wish him the very best and thank him for his contribution to Utahs Capital City."
Contributing: Layton Shumway
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: DJJazzyJody
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