The issue of women journalists in the locker room is one that has been around for more than a decade, and one that the Utah Jazz took care of years ago.
The Jazz solved the problem by issuing robes to every player. NBA rules allow a 10-minute cooling off period after every game, and during that time, players either have time to get in a quick shower or put on the robes.How do the Jazz players feel about women in the locker room? Here is a sampling:
Karl Malone: "Women have a job to do, too. If men are able to go in there, so should the ladies. But just don't do it half way . . . if the women can go in the men's locker room, the men should be able to go in the women's locker room. If you're going to do it, just don't do it half way."
Mark Eaton: "From a male's point of view, I'd like to see a separate area where they could do the interviews . . . With us, Jerry (Sloan) gives us a few minutes to take a quick shower. But women need equal access."
John Stockton: "It's a tough subject. Obviously if women are excluded you could say it's discriminatory. But it's no fun to do an interview with no clothes, even with men. There should be a way to allow access to get the interview. But, personally, I'm from the old school, where privacy is privacy."
Mike Brown: "That's their job, and for me, if that's their job and they handle it in a professional way, I have no problem with it. It's just when things get out of hand that the problem occurs."
NO RAISE: Despite concerns by forward Thurl Bailey that he isn't appreciated, Jazz owner Larry Miller says one thing isn't likely: a raise in the near future.
Bailey, who is among the Jazz's longtime key figures, indicated in recent newspaper and TV interviews that he felt neglected after learning Karl Malone and John Stockton received raises.
Bailey has said he doesn't expect to hold out, and didn't specifically state that he wants a raise. His main point apparently involved respect. Miller says, in hindsight, he should have let Bailey know ahead of time where the increased TV money was going - to Stockton and Malone.
"I probably made a mistake by not getting to Thurl to tell him that I'd done this (reworked Stockton's and Malone's contracts) and that it was going to be out in the press," said Miller.
"I don't want to say, Hey, you're not trying," continued Miller. "What we owe him is an explanation of the thinking that drove the decision. But (as far as Bailey's contract goes) nothing will be done this year."
Miller acknowledged Bailey's contribution to the community - he lives in Salt Lake in the off-season and makes numerous public service appearances - but said he had a sub-par year on the court last season.
"He is a guy who is a valued member of the team, but his production figures just weren't there (last year)," said Miller. "He's a neat guy, a marvelous citizen - which has to count for something - but he has to produce on the basketball court, too."
Miller says he hopes to get with Bailey on Monday or Tuesday to talk things out.
MADDER THAN A HORNET: And you thought "hammering out a contract" was just a colloquialism.? Check with the agnet for first-round Charlotte draft choice Kendall Gill. Gill's attorney sent a letter to the NBA last week, accusing Hornets' V.P. Allan Bristow of physically abusing him during negotiations.
Agent Arn Tellem wanted the league to fine, suspend or fire Bristow after an incident in Bristow's office.
According to team owner George Shinn, Tellem said Bristow "forced him up agaist the wall, choked him." Shinn reported that Bristow said, "I did push my finger in front of his chest."
Shinn said Bristow drove Tellem to the airport afterward. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Tellem was treated in Los Angeles for a sprained neck.
On Wednesday, Gill signed a reported $2 million-per-year contract and everyone was chummy. Well, at least civil. Bristow made a public apology and offered to pay for any medical expenses incurred by Tellum.
Meanwhile Shinn, unable to resist, followed Bristow to the podium by saying saying, "Thank you, Rocky."
EXTRA! EXTRA! Expectations that the Jazz will be a serious force in the NBA playoff picture this year aren't limited to Utah. Along with the preseason prognostications comes this word form NBA writer David Kahn of Portland.
Kahn goes along with the rest of the country in a Basketball Times article detailing the rising superiority of the Western Conference teams. "You have to face the facts," he quotes Portland V.P. for Operations Geoff Petrie as saying. "The Western Conference has the majority of the talented, young players in the league and the majority of the talented, young teams."
Kahn wraps up his column by predicting the Jazz will make their first trip to the NBA Finals. "But after all these moves of summer, after all this jockeying for position, the Utah Jazz look as if they've struck the mother lode with (Jeff) Malone. It's a frightening thought: John Stockton and Karl Malone playing a two-man game on the left side of the court, with Jeff Malone on the right elbow, waiting to catch a pass from Stockton as soon as Malone's man leaves him to help. That scene should be played over and over next season, all the way into the NBA Finals. You read it here first."
IN THE CATBIRD SEAT: Former BYU guard Marty Haws was passed over when invitations went out for the Denver Nuggets' training camp this month. In lieu of trying out for the NBA, Haws is going to play for the La Crosse (Wisc.) Catbirds.