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Sports on TV: Ainge whines, praises Stockton

Published: Friday, May 2 2003 7:21 a.m. MDT

And you thought Danny Ainge just whined about fouls called on him . . .
Actually, the ex-BYU All-American and ex-NBA champion did a bit of whining as an analyst on Game 5 of the Sacramento-Utah series. Not that you could really blame him.
"That's ridiculous," Ainge said after Jazzman Greg Ostertag was ejected from the game. "Everybody in the world is against the Jazz right now."
Ainge was just one of the TNT team who offered tributes to John Stockton and Karl Malone on what everyone certainly seemed to think was going to be their last game together. "The consistency, the toughness of doing it night in and night out, is more important to me than any of those other accomplishments," he said. "These guys have done it every single year and it has been spectacular to watch."
And, later, Ainge added, "I know everybody always talks about Michael Jordan, but there is nobody that ever competed better than John Stockton."
Kenny Smith was equally free with his praise of Stockton: "He's probably the best pure point guard to play the game. . . . He's about efficiency and making people better. That's why he's played for 19 years."
And Eric Musselman (Golden State's head coach) commented that Stockton was a senior at Gonzaga when he was a freshman at San Diego. "I think he understood our offense better than half of the guys on our team. His anticipation defensively, was mind boggling. I think any young player trying to play the point guard position, should realize he is the guy to watch."
Of course, everybody loves you when you're retiring. Or, at least, when they think you're retiring. And the TNT crowd was relatively gentle in their analysis, but they were also firm in their opinions that it's time for the Jazz to move on from the Stockton-and-Malone era.
"I call them the '57 Chevy with Bruce Willis driving, but sometimes you have to trade that car in. . . . That car is getting traded in tonight," said Smith. (Not a bad analogy for someone who isn't always that glib, although I don't quite get what Bruce Willis had to do with anything). "I never thought I'd get rid of the '57 Chevy, but it's gone now."

HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED: Gee, remember back in the day when the local stations fell all over themselves during the NBA playoffs, violating the ethics of journalism by hiring Jazz players as expert analysts (thus paying their sources) and doing late-night update shows and all of that.
Didn't happen this time around, did it?
It's not like our friends suddenly decided they actually do have ethics. They just realized that, what with a first-round exit looming for the third year in a row, there just isn't anywhere near as much interest in the Jazz and the playoffs as there used to be.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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