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A Standing Ovation for Danny Ainge
    by Rubel Shelly

    Sportswriters and pundits have been trying to figure out why an NBA coach would walk away from the money, perks, and notoriety of his job only six weeks into the season. He had a multi-year contract. Team owners say he was in no danger of being fired or replaced. And lots of people would give up anything they have to climb into the catbird seat of fame and wealth he had on the day he gave it up.

    Come to think of it, I have known a few people who did give up practically everything he affirmed in his resignation just to pursue what he left. Some of them would be the first to say they admire his decision, that he did the right thing.

    Danny Ainge abruptly relinquished his job as head coach of the Phoenix Suns. The reason he gave for his decision was that he has a wife and six children at home and that he was tired of being too much of a stranger in their lives. The NBA is likely to be there still in a few years. He knows his children won’t.

    “I love coaching, but anybody can coach,” Ainge said. “My wife has just one husband and my children have just one father. I don’t believe I’m jumping ship. I’m diving overboard to save my family.” He cited a time recently when one of his teenage sons told him he was becoming too distant. “And I couldn’t disagree with him,” he said. A younger daughter had lamented him always being away when daddy-daughter camp outs took place.

“I don’t believe I’m jumping ship. I’m diving overboard to save my family.”
    “This will make a statement to my family,” said the former Boston Celtics player whose coaching record is 136-90 in just over three seasons with the Suns, “that they are more important than my career.”

    What a contrast to the notorious Sports Illustrated story of a while back on all the children fathered, then essentially forgotten and abandoned by NBA players.

    Bryan Colangelo, President of the Suns franchise, reacted with this: “He didn’t quit. He redirected his life.”

    Most men and women can’t quit their jobs today. They don’t have the financial security of a former professional athlete. But I’m sorry for the spouse and kids of anyone whose family isn’t more important than career X and they truly know it.

    Cynics question him. Some will never understand. Those of us who wish we could play a few more games of catch or have one more tea party envy Danny Ainge.

© 2000, Rubel Shelly. Used by permission. From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See Faith Matters for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."

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About the Author...
Rubel Shelly has preached for the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee since 1978. He is the author of more than 20 books. For more details, click here.

Title: "A Standing Ovation for Danny Ainge"
Author: Rubel Shelly
Publication Date: January 11, 2000



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