Rockmonster Unplugged: When locker cleanout ritual actually happened at the lockers

Rockmonster Unplugged: When locker cleanout ritual actually happened at the lockers

Locker cleanout day, a.k.a. exit interviews, is an interesting exercise.

Actually, no it isn’t.

The Jazz closed things down for the summer on Tuesday. The drill for the last several years goes like this: every player meets with the coaching staff, then appears in an interview room, where he is peppered with questions for six or eight minutes and then he’s done. Last on the list are Quin Snyder and Dennis Lindsey, the general manager. This year team president Steve Starks sat in for Lindsey, who was out of town.

The whole ordeal takes about six to seven hours. I heard Snyder on the radio talking about the mental fatigue of his players, but if they want to know mental fatigue they should sit through seven hours of sports cliches.

Things change, but few have changed more than locker cleanouts. In Jerry Sloan’s era, the locker room was open to the media on the day after the season ended. There were boxes of donuts scattered about and usually in midday, someone brought bags of burgers.

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The players spoke with the media right there by their lockers, either before or after their exit interviews. We media people — and the public — got the raw stuff. I remember Ike Austin coming out with tears in his eyes, presumably after being ripped by Sloan. Karl Malone would talk about going hunting, sounding glad the season was over. One year a reporter happened upon a sheet of paper on the locker room floor, containing all the players’ offseason phone numbers. Gold!

Media would sometimes wait in the hallway at the Delta Center and pick off the players as they were leaving. That was the way I caught Al Jefferson and others. All the players were available in an informal setting. It made for good material, not assembly line stuff. There was something about a player sitting in a locker stall eating donuts and breaking down the season that also broke down barriers.

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Published at Wed, 10 May 2017 16:41:00 +0000