There was no Hollywood ending for Utah Jazz center Greg Ostertag on Wednesday night in the Delta Center. No last-second basket or blocked shot or rebound to lead his team to victory in his final NBA game.
Sure, the Jazz won a game that went down to the wire 105-102 over the Golden State Warriors. But Ostertag like much of his final season was relegated to being a high-priced cheerleader on the end of the bench during the final three quarters as his teammates rallied to finish the season 41-41.
"I wished we had built a bigger lead so I could have gotten in again," said Ostertag, who played three minutes and 36 seconds in the first quarter. "But the important thing is that we won."
Ostertag, who announced three days ago that he would retire after 11 NBA seasons and 10 with the Jazz, was given a standing ovation by the Delta Center crowd when he was introduced prior to tip-off.
He got a big cheer yet again when he entered the game with 3:36 to play in the first quarter. He didn't take a shot from the field and missed both of his freethrow attempts, but he did grab an offensive rebound and blocked a shot.
"We sent 'Tag out on a big win," said Jazz forward Carlos Boozer. "We are all going to miss him. He's been a great teammate and a great leader."
While both Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and team owner Larry H. Miller have had their good times and bad times with the 7-2 center over the years, both gave him bear hugs after the game before the team left the court for the final time this season.
"Contrary to what a lot of people have said about Greg, he does care, and he does want to do the right thing," said Sloan. "But sometimes it doesn't happen the way he wants it to. We had kind of a tough relationship at times as far as most people are concerned, but I will say that Greg and I have always been friends the next day. He knows that I don't hold a grudge."
While the general consensus is that Ostertag never reached his potential and was frustratingly inconsistent over his career, the big man pointed out that he never played on a team that finished below .500. His lone season away from the Jazz was a year ago when Utah struggled to only 26 victories while Ostertag played for the Sacramento Kings.
"That was icing on the cake," said Ostertag. "Eleven seasons without a losing record."
Ostertag leaves the game with few regrets.
"I've had an absolute ball," he said. "I've had my ups and downs, but I believe in my heart of hearts that I've had more ups than downs. I can't complain."
So what's next for Ostertag?"I'm heading to Arizona tomorrow," he said. "I'm going to watch my kids grow up, get to know my wife a little better and play a little golf."
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