Dan O'Sullivan looks across the Westminster College gym and considers the employers he's had in the last two weeks. Let's see . . . two jobs ago, he was working for Marathon Oil, barnstorming the country playing exhibition games against college teams. A week ago, he was suiting up with the Omaha Racers of the CBA. And Thursday night, he was on the bench in street clothes, watching the Utah Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet," says the Jazz's latest signee. "I was at the game, and I couldn't believe I was sitting there. It's going to settle in quick, though. This is the real thing."At least it's the real thing for 10 days. O'Sullivan began working under his 10-day contract with the Jazz at Friday's practice. Today he will suit up for the first time, when the Jazz meet the Los Angeles Clippers (game time is 1:30 p.m.) in the Salt Palace.
Should the Jazz like the way the 6-foot-11, 245-pound center/forward plays, they can sign him to another 10-day contract. After that, they have to either sign him for the rest of the year or release him.
O'Sullivan's career has been a strange, unpredictable trip since he left Fordham Univerity last spring, after averaging 12.5 points and 7.6 rebounds during his senior year. He was invited to tryout camp with the New Jersey Nets and played in five exhibition games averaging 2.8 points. But after the Nets cut him, he hooked up with Marathon Oil, playing there until he was called upon by Omaha. There he appeared in three games, averaging 5.3 points and 5.3 rebounds.
The time with the Nets was a dream come true for O'Sullivan, who grew up in the Bronx. After high school he was only recruited by three schools - Holy Cross, Fairfield and Fordham. Since Fordham was in his home territory, he went there. When the Nets asked him to try out, he was ecstatic to remain close to home. "The chance with the Nets was great because I lived just 15 minutes from there," he says. "I'd go anywhere to play, but being in New Jersey was extra special."
After being cut by the Nets, O'Sullivan tried to get on with a European team but had no success. "I had no great reputation as a big-time player," he says. "They weren't knocking on my door, I was kind of knocking on theirs."
When Omaha starting center Greg Wiltjer was injured and another player cut, that left an opening for O'Sullivan.
Having raised no interest in Europe and only marginal interest in the CBA - he was drafted in the second round by the Racers - O'Sullivan was naturally skeptical when Jazz Director of Player Personnel Scott Layden called. "I thought it was a practical joke by some of the guys," said O'Sullivan. "I kind of did a double-take. I couldn't quite believe it was really him."
O'Sullivan's assignment with the Jazz is to back up All-Star forward Karl Malone. "I see him adding a big body to the team and, hopefully, he'll be able to run the floor for us," says Coach Jerry Sloan.
Meanwhile, O'Sullivan is taking a pragmatic approach to his new job. "That's what it is - a 10-day contract," he says. "I'll take it for what it's worth. If it works out, great. If not, I'll bounce back with somebody."
Pregame notes: Jazz forward Thurl Bailey has averaged 15.3 points in his last three games and shot 53 percent in that span . . . Mark Eaton has made his last six field goal attempts and is shooting .549, best on the team . . . The Clippers, 11-16, are 2-10 on the road and have lost six of their last seven games . . . Clippers' center Benoit Benjamin returned in their last game after missing eight games due to a tooth removal . . . Guard Ron Harper is practicing with the team after beginning the year on the injured list due to a knee injury . . . Forward Danny Manning has started the last nine games and scored in double figures seven of those.