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For week ended December 19, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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Ainge's reasons resonate with some (Ainge says return to TV possible)

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Ainge's reasons resonate with some (Ainge says return to TV possible)
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 15Dec99 S2
By Bob Young: The Arizona Republic

PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- LDS sports star and NBA coach Danny Ainge's resignation this week sent shock waves through the sports world, not just because it happened, but because of why it happened. While some sports writers and fans looked for a hidden reason for Ainge's resignation, several columnists have discovered what is obvious to most members of the LDS Church, that Ainge resigned for exactly the reasons he gave - to spend more time with his family.

The resignation is bigger news than the story of Carolina receiver Rae Carruth being accused of murder, according to the Deseret News' Brad Rock, "If a pro athlete is picked up for illegal possession of drugs or firearms, or beating up his girlfriend, we yawn. But when Danny Ainge quits coaching basketball for family reasons, it sends shock waves."

Rock goes on to note ". . . he wanted to make a statement to his family. But he also made a statement to the sports world. Lots of people talk about priorities, but for once, someone made a family decision that wasn't a great business decision."

Still, many sportswriters and fans didn't buy his explanation. Ainge told the Arizona Republic that he had received a lot of calls from people looking for "the real reason." Some think he wants to take a job at BYU in order to coach his son, Austin. Others speculate that someone in his family is ill or that his wife has threatened to leave him. Still others think someone at the Suns pushed Ainge out of the job. Ainge responds to these rumors: "All it takes in our society now is for one person to spread something on the Internet or radio, and it's on the wire and everybody buys into it."

Ainge then goes back to his explanation of why he resigned, "The only ones who can truly understand it are people who have been through it. It's a grind. It comes down to the simple concept that you can't serve two masters, and I firmly believe that. I've heard from people that have said they really respect what I've done and it made them take a second look, but that I didn't need to give up my job. But I needed to because one of them (job or family) was going to suffer. I had a hard time not letting my job consume me."

USA Today columnist Mike Lopresti says he understands, "I look at a soon-to-be college coed where a little girl used to be. A 6-footer where a little boy once was. And the youngest is no longer asking to go see Santa Claus. How many giggling days I'd love to have back. But time has no mercy to a father." He says that although the sports world has seen the "family card" played before, its rarely played with such pure motives. "Danny Ainge appears to live in a different world. . . . . To some it may not make sense. But any father who yearns for one last pony ride understands."

And the Deseret News' Brad Rock also says he understands. After spending four years as a pro basketball writer, Rock describes the grind, "In a seven-month NBA season, you spend about 100 nights on the road. You spend another 50 or so nights in town when the team has home games, but you're at the arena early and arrive home too late to see your kids. There's no time during the season for any substantive talks about kids, finances, plans. Holidays are seldom if ever an off day. The spouse who doesn't travel ends up doing everything - chaperoning kids, paying bills, shopping for Christmas, attending parent-teacher conferences, etc."

Rock says that in Ainge's case, the bottom line is clear, "Ainge's decision simply proved his priorities, and he backed them up by walking out of a multimillion-dollar contract."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information