MIAMI - DAY 7 of Jim Farmer's Ten Days in January found him bleeding from cuts on his chin and shoulder, chasing veteran Jon Sundvold around double screens, shooting free throws in a tie game and being personally charged with keeping the Jazz from losing again to the Miami Heat Tuesday.
This guy is earning his daily $532. "It was work tonight, let me tell you," he was saying in the locker room afterward.Signed last week to a 10-day contract, Farmer joined the Jazz in Chicago. He immediately scored six points in 12 minutes of a win over the Bulls and kept appearing in key stretches the rest of the trip.
In four games, he's played 65 minutes at guard - all of last season in Dallas, as a first-round draft choice, Farmer played 157 minutes. Waived by the Mavericks just before this season's opener, he stayed around Dallas and worked out while waiting for an NBA call, but took the holidays off and went home to Alabama.
You know the rest. The Jazz lost two players and gained some New Year's controversy, but they've also found a player.
"He's done in and done a good job for us," Darrell Griffith, benched in favor of Farmer down the stretch Monday.
"It's going to be hard not to . . . well, I'm not negotiating for him," said for-ward/agent Karl Malone.
What he's saying is, how can the Jazz not sign Farmer for the rest of the season? This is not a bad audition.
"I had no idea what I coming into," mused Farmer. "I didn't really know how much time I'd get, if I'd get any. Jerry Sloan has put me in there and given me an opportunity to prove myself, and I think I've done pretty well."
With Farmer on the floor, the Jazz had a 27-10 first-half run against Miami. He struggled during Griffith's second-half rest period, but when Sundvold kept pinwheeling around screens and knocking in outside shots, here was Sloan, walking down the sidelines and pointing to Farmer.
Five minutes left, Jazz up 83-80 and fading fast.
"I kind of looked at him," said Farmer, a little surprised by the call. "I think he was seeing if I wanted to be out there."
By playing Farmer with the Heat on, Sloan was setting himself up for, oh, a good month's worth of second-guessing. When Sundvold worked free for a jumper and two three-pointers that tied the game, the radio call-in lines were probably already lighting up.
More trouble to come. The Jazz's offense looked like this at the end: John Stockton passes to Malone, who's double-teamed and passes back to John Stockton, who drives, pulls up and passes to Farmer on the right angle with the shot clock running down. First trip: Farmer travels, starting his dribble move. Second trip: Farmer is fouled by Rory Sparrow and is sent to the free-throw line, after the officials decide the foul came before the shot clock expired.
So here's Farmer, who played for Dallas last season only in games long ago decided, standing at the line in a tie game with 25 seconds left. "Confidence, baby, confidence," he was telling himself. "I just wanted to at least give us the lead."
The first try was short, the second good. With 13 seconds left, he was fouled again - he made the first and missed the second. On the last sequence, he stayed close enough to Sundvold to make Sparrow take the shot - the Jazz survived, and Farmer was off to have eight stitches in his chin.
Welcome back to the NBA.
This will be the month of Farmer's greatest contribution to the Jazz. Even if he stays, he'll be an 11th or 12th man, just like in Dallas, when Bobby Hansen returns. The thing is, instead of looking scared and stewing about his future like Bart Kofoed and Scott Roth did during the November-December 12th-Man Battle, Farmer is playing basketball. Awfully good basketball, in fact, for somebody buried on the Dallas bench for a year.
"I feel like I let that affect me, and that's why I got out (waived) out of the league in the first place," said Farmer. "I lost my confidence. After I got cut, I said I'm not ever going to let that happen again."
The cool Farmer has helped the Jazz to three road wins, and helped himself in the process. "I wasn't ever supposed to make it anywhere," said Farmer, who came from a small high school in southern Alabama and was offered only one major scholarship, to the U. of Alabama. "I've always had to dig deep and prove myself. I'm trying to make the ballclub. I'm doing the best I can, and hopefully, that's good enough. You never know in this crazy game."