AFTER SEEING THE JAZZ'S two best players place one-two in the All-Star Game MVP balloting, team president Dave Checketts is smiling like he bought Xerox stock before the copy-machine boom.
"Do I think it would have been harder signing those guys (Karl Malone and John Stockton) to contracts after Sunday's game?" said Checketts in repeating a question."Yeah, I guess you could say that."
"It seemed like CBS's whole coverage was on the Jazz," said Checketts, referring to the feature on Malone before the game, the feature on Stockton during the game, and the 28-point, nine-rebound MVP performance of Malone and the 11-point, 17-assist runner-up MVP performance of Stockton. "I was especially glad we got Stockton's contract done before he went down there."
Not that Malone and Stockton are indentured servants. Malone's contract, signed prior to the start of the season, is a 10-year deal for around $18 million, while Stockton's contract, signed last Thursday, is an eight-year deal for around $10 million.
"They'll both be 35 when their contracts are up," said Checketts. "We wanted to keep them at least to that magic Geritol age."
***** STILL, NO GUARANTEES: Unfortunately for the Jazz and Malone, winning the All-Star Game MVP trophy is no passport to fame and fortune the rest of the season. It's almost to the contrary.
Since the All-Star Game began 38 seasons ago in 1951, only eight MVPs have gone on to win NBA championship rings by the end of the season, and just four MVPs have been on title teams in the past 25 years. Willis Reed of the Knicks, Jerry West of the Lakers, Nate Archibald of Boston and Julius Erving of Philadelphia are the four - in 1970, 1971, 1981 and 1983, respectively.
Only three players have won the All-Star Game MVP award, been a member of an NBA championship team, and won the season's MVP award. They include Bob Cousy of the 1957 Boston Celtics, Bill Russell of the 1963 Boston Celtics, and Reed of the 1970 New York Knicks.
***** ADD MALONE: When he was drafted by the Jazz in the summer of 1985, Malone had only a rudimentary understanding of where he was headed.
"I want to do everything I can for the people and the town of Utah," he said in his telephone acceptance speech from Louisiana.
As he demonstrated in his nationally televised post-game MVP interview Sunday in Houston, the Mailman's geography has, well, improved.
"I know people don't know where Utah is at," he said, "but it's in Salt Lake City."
***** BUT HE KNOWS: Then again, there was one All-Star who knew everything about Utah. That was Tom Chambers, who plays for Phoenix but who was born and raised in Ogden.
"People think there are three guys here from Utah," said Chambers, referring to the Jazz's Malone, Stockton and Mark Eaton. "But they should think there are four; and I'm the only guy from Utah."
***** NORTHERN STARS: As more proof that schools scour the four corners of the earth in search of college football talent, consider that among Weber State's signees last week were two players from the North Pole.
Linebackers Devin McHenry and Derrick Gurley are both from North Pole, Alaska.
"We didn't exactly recruit them in person," said Weber Coach Mike Price. "We sent up a videotape of the campus. One of the guys (McHenry) came for a visit, but the other one has never seen Ogden."
He just heard it was to the south . . . and warmer.
Both players were recruited by Pac-10 schools, McHenry by Washington State and Gurley by Cal-Berkeley, and they chose Weber after the Pac-10 schools dropped out of the race.
***** BUCK FOR THE BEST: In an attempt to lure bodies back into the Dee Events Center, Weber State is selling all of the arena's upper seats for $1 Friday night when the Wildcats play Boise State.
"We're calling it Buck the Bronco Night," says Mike Price. "We want to show our support for the best basketball team in the state, and for one of the best players in America." He was referring, ahem, to 15-6 Weber State and Rico Washington, respectively.
"Only a dollar for any seat, this night only," says Price. "Except for newspaper guys. For them it's a dollar fifty."