Thursday, January 19, 2012
Greg Ostertag scuttles comeback
By Marc Stein
After knee troubles limited him to less than 30 minutes in the Texas Legends' last three games, Greg Ostertag informed the team Thursday that he is ending his comeback in the D-League.
Ostertag had his best game for the Frisco-based Legends last week at the D-League Showcase in Reno in front of scouts from numerous NBA teams, but the 38-year-old told ESPN.com on Thursday that the pain in his knees since then had become unbearable.
"They've been bugging me since I came back (in late December), but I could barely move (after Reno)," Ostertag said. "I felt good there and I played good. I get out there and sometimes I do get loose, but usually the 'don'ts' are longer than the 'dos.' It sucks, but I knew going into this what could happen."
Ostertag had 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in just 21 minutes last Wednesday against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. The performance prompted Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Nick Nurse, watching courtside, to say: "He knocks people down. He's hard to deal with. Every time I've seen him, he matters in the game."
Yet Ostertag, after a five-season layoff, leaves the Del Harris-coached Legends with modest averages of 4.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game in his 10-game stint in the NBA's developmental league.
Fed up with the NBA grind, Ostertag left the sport at 33 after the 2005-06 season.
"I regret quitting when I did," Ostertag said. "At that time, it wasn't so much playing. I was tired of everything that goes along with it, like the travel, not being able to fall asleep before 4 or 5 in the morning. I was tired of all that, but I should have kept going for a couple more years.
"I hope people understand that this was not a publicity stunt. I genuinely wanted to play basketball. The first couple weeks, I thought I was playing decent, but I just wasn't in shape. I was starting to get in shape -- as far as conditioning I felt as good as I've felt (Wednesday night against Tulsa) -- but I just can't move the way I need to. These guys are young and fast. Some of them were just getting out of diapers when I came into the league."
Ostertag said he made the decision in the early hours of Thursday morning after going to a movie following the Tulsa game.
"My mind was going a million miles an hour," Ostertag said. "I just realized it was time to hang 'em up for good."
The former Duncanville High star spent 10 of his 11 seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz, averaging 4.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 756 games. He went to the NBA Finals with the Jazz in 1997 and 1998 in his second and third seasons out of Kansas.
Senior writer Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com.