THE YANKEES ARE COMING!: With talk continuing to heat up about an NBA-enhanced U.S. Olympic team, the questions be mostly logistical. How hard would it be to get NBA players to the Games without jeopardizing their careers or the future of the teams?
Jazz General Manager Tim Howells says he likes the idea of NBA players in the Olympics, but has some reservations. "I think it's great for these guys to have the opportunity to participate," said Howells.He continues, "But there would definitely have to be some business considerations." Among them would be contractual obligations, availability and insurance coverage for the teams should their player be injured.
"I don't know if it's been contemplated that they would play at their own risk, or what. Even so, if that's the case, there's the risk the team takes of losing an asset."
Jazz star Karl Malone, who went on record long ago as saying he would love to represent the U.S., said he hasn't changed his mind. Informed that the coach could be Detroit's Chuck Daly, he joked, "Coach Daly? Oh, well. That changes the whole approach." Then he added, "No, I'd love to play, I don't care who the coach is. I'd like to play against Russia. We haven't played them with our best athletes and we have the best athletes in the world."
Jazz guard John Stockton struck a more cautious note. Ever the team man, Stockton said one of his big concerns would be over the ethics of playing all summer with an Olympic team and then not having enough strength to give 100 percent for an entire NBA season to follow.
"Besides," said Stockton, "I don't know that even with the great players in the NBA if we could go in cold turkey and win it."
CAN YOU SAY PERFECT? If there weren't already enough legends surrounding the inimitable Michael Jordan, the word out of Chicago is that a few weeks ago he offered to take a pay cut of sorts - all for the benefit of the team.
Actually, it was a deferrment. Jordan, hoping the Bulls could acquire a veteran player to improve their lot, agreed to defer almost $500,000 of his salary this year to next season. That would have opened the salary cap enough for the Bulls to afford to sign Denver free agent Walter Davis.
Not to be outdone, the Lakers' Magic Johnson took a pay cut last week in order for the Lakers to sign Golden State guard Terry Teagle.
The Jordan offer never materialized. Davis never got to Chicago and Jordan doesn't have to wait on his half-mill. But, as they say in the greeting cards, it's the thought that counts.
COMING FAST: With only five days remaining until the opening of camp, it appears the Jazz are highly interested in getting started on their most promising season.
Reserve guard Darrell Griffith said recently from his home in Louisville that he is in excellent shape, having worked out daily. "I'm not about to get out of shape," he said.
As for the Jazz's chances, he said, "We're there. We have the nucleus of an NBA championship team. I don't think you'll get an argument from any basketball experts around. We're one of X teams that could win it."
Jazz rookies report Monday at Westminster College and will work on the offense. Veterans will report on Friday.
PREMONITION: Griffith, who signed a five-year, $1.5 million contract as a rookie, was the NBA's No. 2 pick in 1980. But, says Griff, nowadays salaries are in a class by themselves. On the $26 million man, John "Hot Rod" Williams, he says, "If the teams weren't making money, you wouldn't have this type of salary. I'll tell you what, you don't have to worry about Hot Rod. He's signed, sealed and delivered."
On what impact Williams' signing will have, he added,"The guys who are elite players right now are smiling. . . Karl (Malone), John (Stockton), (Michael) Jordan. . .
Two weeks later, the Jazz announced the new contracts for Stockton and Malone.
HUNK APPEAL: The October issue of Sport magazine is out, and with it the list of the "100 Best in Sports."
The Jazz checked in with with John Stockton rating as the "Best Playmaking Guard Who's Not Not Named Magic."
And, naturally, there was a reference to Karl Malone, who won the "Best Body in the NBA" competition.
Malone says he doesn't pay much attention to lists in such publications as USA Today and Sport. However, there are apparently exceptions. Asked about his "best body" status, he said, "Man, I agree with that!"