After years of suffering from an image as a whining bad boy in the NBA, Danny Ainge is finally getting some good reviews.

Last weekend's Northwest magazine detailed the causes of Ainge's reputation and explained what he's really like. Although it said he's no "Ainge-el," he reportedly isn't the monster people think he is."Danny Ainge's reputation as a bad guy is unwarranted," wrote Trailblazers beat writer Kerry Eggers. "On the court, he's an intense competitor, but he's a clean player. Off the court, he's a devoted family man, father of four children and a devout Mormon who doesn't drink, smoke or take drugs. He gives time to charitable cauases, signs autographs until he gets writer's cramp, treats kids as if he's glad they're around . . . Now that he's back in home territory and wearing a Blazer uniform, his bad rep deserves to be revisited and revised."

Ainge's own feelings about his reputation?: "I'd have to be one of the guys in the league I'd be least afraid to get in a scuffle with."

THE, UH, BIG TIME: He may be the No. 1 draft pick, and he may be off to a good start, but the Nets' Derrick Coleman has gotten at least one big surprise in the NBA - the crowds.

After coming from Syracuse, where they pack 30,000 fans into the Carrier Dome, he now plays to crowds 1/4 that size in the Meadowlands Arena.

"I coudn't believe it," Coleman said. "I looked around at all the empty seats, and I turned to Tate George (a fellow rookie) and said, "This is it? They draw more people than that to women's games at Syracuse."

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The road to the NBA - or wherever he's going - is becoming a winding one for former BYU guard Marty Haws.

After beginning the season in LaCrosse (Wisc.) of the CBA, he was traded to Rockford (Ill.). Not liking the situation there, Haws returned to Utah to enroll in school. But it only took a call from his agent, and Haws was back on the court, this time in Belgium.

The ex-Cougar reportedly beat former NBA and Notre Dame guard David Rivers out for a job that includes $6,000 a month salary, a home, a car and a bonus for every win the team gets.

Haws' contract is guaranteed through the remainder of the season (6 months).

AMERICANS ABROAD: Haws isn't the only familiar name making a living overseas. NBA News recently printed stats from Italian and Spanish leagues (current as of Nov. 25), and the list of ex-NBA players was long.

Among those with Utah ties playing in Italy are ex-Utes Pace Mannion (26 ppg for Shampoo Clear Cantu) and Danny Vranes (20.6 ppg for Teorema Arese) and ex-Jazzman Darryl Dawkins (22.1 ppg for Auxiulium Torino).

The Spanish league includes ex-Jazz players Scott Roth (Baskonia Taugres, 17.2), Marc Iavaroni (Caja De Ronda, 19.2) and Raymond Brown (Oar Ferrol, 17.4).

UNFORGETTABLE: The last two weeks were quick, but they'll be memorable ones for Jazz swingman Andy Toolson . . . and apparently anyone related to him.

Toolson, who started four games in place of injured Blue Edwards, became the father of a baby girl Nov. 29. Meanwhile, in Boise, Toolson's sister and her husband recently won a $25,000 BMW in a radio promotion contest. They won by inserting one of 65 contestant keys into the car's ignition. "She got in the car, turned the key, and it started up," said Toolson.

Afterward, the couple traded the BMW in for two Toyotas.

ADD TOOLSON: Toolson has apparently beaten the odds, at least for one season. With only 18 days remaining until the date contracts become binding for the rest of the year, Toolson at least has some financial security.

With the departure of Eric Johnson, who was waived on Tuesday, that leaves only 7-5 center Alan Bannister on the injured list. But Bannister isn't scheduled to be recovered from surgery until January. Thus, Toolson should pass the date without problem, and make a minimum of $120,000 for his first year in pro basketball.

DULY STATED: Karl Malone on whether he would ever wear headgear, i.e. Detroit's Bill Laimbeer or teammate Blue Edwards, to protect an injury: "Heck no. I ain't no Jason."

Charles Barkley on Boston's aging front line: "I'd rather have older guys who are great players than younger guys who stink."

This report includes materials gathered from other news sources.