When Utah Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen checked his cellphone Monday morning, he was horrified.
In the previous few hours, Jensen received scores of emails and text messages with the unfathomable news that one of his former players — Quinton Ross — had been murdered.
According to a story on the New York Post’s website, a man named Quinton Ross and identified as a former NBA player had been found stuffed into a plastic bag and buried in a shallow grave on a city beach.
"Everybody was asking if I’d heard what happened to Quinton," Jensen said. "I mean, something like that could happen to anybody, I guess. But Quinton seems like the last guy who would put himself in that kind of position."
Jensen quickly started looking for more information, but he couldn’t find anything.
"I hit on all the links," he said, "but everything had been taken down. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ "
It took awhile, but Jensen finally learned what happened.
As the story unfolded, it turned out a man named Quinton Ross had been murdered in New York. But he wasn’t the same person who played for Jensen with the D-League’s Canton Charge during the 2011-12 season.
"I was just shocked," Jensen said, "because he’s such a bright guy. I always thought Quinton would make a good coach, if he decided to stay in basketball."
Ross spent seven seasons in the NBA. He played in 458 regular-season games with the L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Dallas, Washington and New Jersey.
"A great professional and teammate," Jensen said. "He’s quiet. Worked hard. Long. Tall. Athletic. He could guard either wing spot. Great on rotations. Just smart. He was a cerebral player."
For a time, I thought Ross might end up playing for the Jazz.
After John Stockton retired and Karl Malone moved to the Lakers for his final season, Utah was rebuilding in 2003.
Ross played for the Jazz in the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league. He scored 18 points in one game against the Knicks.
Then-coach Jerry Sloan was openly impressed with Ross and I was surprised he did not return for training camp. Looking back, however, his opportunity in Utah might have ended when the Jazz signed veteran shooting guard Raja Bell in September.
In 2010, Ross was also mentioned as part of a rumored four-team trade that would have landed him to Utah.
The Jazz pondered sending Andrei Kirilenko and his monster expiring contract to Denver for Boris Diaw of Charlotte and Ross of New Jersey.
It didn’t happen.
Ross, 32, was released by the Nets in 2011 and hasn’t played again in the NBA.
He spent Tuesday trying to get word to deeply concerned family members, friends and former colleagues that he was not the victim of a New York City murder.Next Page >
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