It had to end sometime. But after 22 years in charge of the Utah Jazz, it remains a shock that Jerry Sloan confirmed on Thursday that he had resigned as head coach.

“My time is up,” he said with a tear in his eye.

The longest-tenured in his position in the NBA, Sloan was one of the few bridges remaining to the league’s classic era. He was old school in the proper sense. And now the bell has rung with assistant Tyrone Corbin taking charge following the simultaneous departure of long-time number two Phil Johnson.

“I thought about it a few days ago,” Sloan revealed at a press conference in Salt Lake City. After sleeping on it overnight, the decision was made.

“It just seemed like this was the time. When it’s all said and done, it’s a matter of me deciding to leave. I don’t want to make a big deal about it.

“You only have so much energy left. My energy levels have dropped off a bit. I think it’s time for someone else to get a chance.”

Officials confirmed they made an eleventh hour approach to try and change the pair’s minds.

“Up until about 10 minutes ago, we were still trying to talk Jerry and Phil out of leaving but that didn’t work either,” said Jazz president Kevin O’Connor.

But the announcement capped a feverish 24 hours after he met with Sloan and his assistants for 30 minutes following a loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Ironically, Sloan spent most of his playing career in Chicago where he was twice named an All Star before coaching the Bulls for over two seasons.

His former team would deny him the validation of a NBA title after Michael Jordan twice led Chicago to defeat Utah in the Finals. And, ultimately, they would also deny him a winning exit.

There are claims Williams and Sloan almost came to blows this week

However, multiple sources have suggested that the veteran has clashed repeatedly this season with the team’s point guard Deron Williams, contributing to growing tension behind the scenes.

“Nobody pushed Jerry or Phil out,” underlined co-owner Greg Miller, who confirmed he had offered his personal backing.

Citing sources close to the situation, reported that Williams defied Sloan’s instructions to call his own play during the tie against the Bulls.

But Sloan has a history of volatility with his players, including ex-England international John Amaechi who claimed that his relationship with the coach disintegrated during his spell there. It has rarely, until now, impacted on his philosophy of tough love and unselfish play.

“I’ve had player confrontations since I’ve been in the league,” Sloan declared. “But those things are minor when you’re trying to go forward.”

Coming just three days after he signed an extension to his contract, the move caught his players by surprise when they were notified of the change.

“I still can’t believe it actually went down,” said Jazz forward CJ Miles on Twitter. “I was sure that it was gonna be squashed today and he wouldn’t do it,”

Aged 68, the Hall of Famer leaves the Jazz with a career coaching record of 1221-803, a .603 winning percentage, and a play-off record of 98-104.

He ranks third all-time in NBA wins behind Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332).

“The greatest compliment we can give you is that you gave us your best,” said team executive Randy Rigby.

Corbin, who played under Sloan before joining his staff, now faces the mammoth task of winning over a locker room which, by all appearances, has not been as supportive as its front office.

“For me this is a bittersweet moment,” he said. “While its a great opportunity for me, it’s a bitter moment for me because I will miss these guys a lot.”

They are immense shoes to fill. It is hard to envisage one coach again lasting so long with one team. Denied the NBA’s Coach of the Year award during his career despite a extraordinary streak of just one losing season in his Utah tenure, Sloan has made a mark that matches his two greatest stars: Karl Malone and John Stockton.

“Few people have epitomised all the positives of team sports more than Jerry Sloan.,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern.

“A basketball lifer, Jerry was as relentless in his will to win on the sidelines for the Utah Jazz as he was as an All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls. In over two decades as a coach, he taught his players that nothing was more important than the team.

“His most impressive qualities were his leadership and his extraordinary ability to encourage his players to subjugate their individual games for the benefit of the whole. Two trips to The Finals and over 1,200 regular-season victories more than validate his philosophy. Jerry moves on having established himself as one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history.”

Sloan indicated he will not return to the sideline. My wife, he smiled, has other jobs in mind for him at home.

“I’ve been fortunate to have had terrific people to work with,” said Sloan.

“The fans, this organisation have been second to none. We lose 69 games and still have lots of people coming to watch.

“We have great players who compete … the fans have been fair. The reporters have been fair. All the people who have been responsible for me being here have been fair. I’ve been blessed.”

Off he departs from the Jazz, not on the high note he would have wished for but with few regrets.

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