Being the 12th man on the Jazz sure seems like the ultimate job - little responsibility, great salary, good benefits and nice travel accommodations, even if you have to give up your first-class airline seat to the head coach.
So why does everybody have such a tough time keeping the job? The last three 12th men all were fired for non-basketball reasons. For Jim Farmer, who has a 10-day tryout for the position, we offer this exclusive guide to being the Jazz's 12th man.1) Never, like Pace Mannion, align yourself with management's least popular player (Adrian Dantley) and establish yourself as disloyal to the cause and the coach who brought you back to the NBA.
2) Never, like Carey Scurry, argue with the coach on the bench in Milwaukee - and then ask to be traded. A trade sounds good until you discover nobody else wants you.
3) Never, ever, like Bart Kofoed, accept a holiday invitation to Bobby Hansen's house. Kofoed - and Hansen - survived a Christmas visit, but he came back for more on New Year's Eve and knocked himself off the team.
Other former benchmen, like Darryl Dawkins, Rickey Green and Mel Turpin, became disruptive and were traded to worse situations. Having stayed on the bench for 52 Dallas games last season, Farmer qualifies for the Jazz job. He should be smart enough to stay a while - and there's room for him, because he's actually the 11th man until Hansen returns.
Kofoed's firing was only as harsh as his job was comfortable. The Jazz would never have terminated Hansen's five-year, $3 million contract if he'd punched Kofoed, but an NBA 12th man gets a lot for doing a little, so different standards apply - after all, there are only 25 such jobs in the world.
*** MONEY TALKS: Kofoed lost the last two-thirds of his $125,000 salary, pending the NBA Players Association's grievance in what could be a precedent-setting case.
Here's the rest of the Jazz payroll, according to a Newark Star-Ledger survey: Karl Malone, $1.3 million; Darrell Griffith, $685,000; Mark Eaton, $675,000; Thurl Bailey, $600,000; Hansen, $475,000; Eric Leckner, $325,000; John Stockton, $300,000; Jose Ortiz, $275,000; Marc Iavaroni, $225,000; and Jim Les, $100,000.
Bailey and Stockton, of course, are still in line for raises. The latest on Bailey, whose contract was supposed to be finalized this week: "It's really in my hands," Bailey said.
*** DEFENDING JORDAN: First, it was ex-Bull Charles Oakley. Now, teammate Horace Grant has complained about Michael Jordan.
"I can sympathize with what (Oakley) went through," Grant said. "I'd like to get the ball more, but I'm not getting it. It's frustrating. I know Michael is a great player, but he can't do it all. We need others to contribute. But I'm not getting the chance. Is that too much to ask?"
Responded Coach Doug Collins, "For us to ever be a very good team, we're going to have to be more balanced. But people don't understand that with a guy like Michael Jordan, it's hard to run an offense. He's so good he distorts everything."
The Jazz's Mike Brown almost agrees with his former teammates. "It makes sense to the Bulls," he said of the offense. "I feel for the fellas. It's no fun playing at all if you're not happy."
*** AT RANDOM: The overhauled Phoenix Suns are the NBA's most improved team, this side of Cleveland. Even former coach John MacLeod, now with Dallas, is impressed. "I never thought they'd do this well," he said . . . Former Jazzman Eddie Hughes, now working on a 10-day contract with Denver, has been waived and re-signed six times. "It's just another opportunity. You never can tell what's going to happen in this game," he noted . . . Another ex-Jazzman, Scott Roth, will appear - as promised - in the Salt Palace in another uniform. His 10-day deal with San Antonio will carry him through Thursday's game with the Jazz . . . Jazz guard Jim Les' coach at Bradley University was Dick Versace, the new Indiana coach . . . On the latest western trip, Miami has trailed by nine, 24, 19 and 17 points after the first quarter. "Dig a deep hole and try to climb out of it," is Coach Ron Rothstein's summary . . .
Mark Eaton and his wife have finalized the adoption of a son.