Three years ago, under the bright lights of playoff exposure and a banner that bore his name and retired No. 4, Adrian Dantley stood on the court at EnergySolutions Arena and watched his one chance as an NBA head coach end with a 4-2 series defeat to the Utah Jazz. The next year, the Hall of Famer was fired from George Karl's bench in Denver, despite replacing the head man on an interim basis while he underwent cancer treatments in the final months of the 2010 season.
But in one of the stranger "Where Are They Now" updates you'll ever see, Deadspin reports that Dantley, who played from the Jazz from 1979 to 1986, now works as a crossing guard near a middle school in Silver Spring, Md., a Washington suburb, pulling down $14,685.50 a year.
Dantley did not comment for the story.
According to the story — written by Dave McKenna, who brought us the infamous "Cranky Redskin Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder" — Dantley, whose number was retired by the Jazz in 2007 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame a year later, doesn't need the money. Instead, he is in it for the health benefits.
From McKenna's piece:
On a recent morning I was sitting in a car at the intersection that Dantley guards, and just minutes before the first period bell was to ring, I saw him lunge in front of a running youngster, who was oblivious to everything but her own fear of tardiness, and keep the kid out of the path of a turning automobile. He went about this lifesaving task with all the effort he'd put into stopping Isaiah Thomas from driving to the basket or David Falk from touching a paycheck. It was as if the gods wanted me to know Dantley's not on anybody's dole.
Friends of Dantley are amused that he's taken a position that pays him 1/35th of the average annual income of an NBA player. But they aren't surprised that he took the job, or that he takes it seriously. "Adrian's cheap. But he's not going to take free money," says an associate. "That's not Adrian Dantley. No matter what the job is, he's gonna show up on time, and give other people [expletive] if they show up late."
According to the story, Dantley took the job at the beginning of the school year. The piece contains plenty of not-so-nice characterizations of Jazz management from Dantley's era, but offers a pretty thorough breakdown of negotiations between Dantley and Frank Layden. What's not mentioned, though, is that a big part of the reason the Jazz weren't too hesitant to ship their leading scorer to Detroit was the presence of a young Karl Malone.
But, as the story notes, "it would take Dantley three years of crossing guarding just to earn enough to pay the fines he got while holding out ($44,000) for that last Jazz contract, a three-year, $2.85-million contract that was big for its day."
Dantley remains a big presence in the Jazz record book. He remains the franchise's all-time leader in career field-goal percentage (56.2) and points per game (29.6). He is third all-time in points (13,635) behind John Stockton and Malone.
— Bill Oram