Pizza’s deliveries

By By Tony Pizza

By Tony Pizza

Short of being one of those lumberjacks in The Great Outdoor Games on ESPN or a photographer for Maxim, I think I have a pretty perfect job. Even though the pay isn’t great–it basically averages out to minimum wage considering the hours involved–I would seriously consider doing this job for free if I had to.

I don’t love this job just because I get to watch and write about sports. I also love it because I get to ask athletes the questions I have dreamed about asking them since I was a little kid.

Growing up, I was never a big fan of getting autographs. When I grew up and made it to the NBA, I didn’t want people bothering me for my autograph, and plus, what was I supposed to do with a piece of paper that had some guy’s name on it? Take it to school, show all the kids and say, “Look everyone, I saw Karl Malone yesterday and I have the paper to prove it, now does anyone want to be my friend?”

I remember my dad taking me to the mall one day–kind of like when every kid makes a pilgrimage there every year just to visit an elaborate cardboard North Pole, decked out with elves and a Santa that has the lingering smell of vodka on his breath and a herpes sore the size of a penny on his lip.

There was no Santa at the mall on this day, but in place of Santa’s setup that was there from Halloween to January was a cage big enough to hold five elephants without breaking a sweat.

Instead of elephants in the cage, there were a bunch of famous people, one of which was Karl Malone.

I guess the concept was that these people would stay “locked” in the cage until they raised enough money to cure cancer or something by signing portraits of themselves.

I remember my dad taking my brother and me to the side of the cage where Malone was and forking over some bills in the neighborhood of 40 bucks just for us to get two autographed pictures of Malone posing with a basketball. I know my dad was just trying to be fatherly, but in retrospect, it probably wasn’t money well spent–mostly because I spilled Kool-Aid on the picture a week later.

For me, those 40 bucks would have been better spent had Malone put on a big red suit and a white beard so I could sit on his lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas, and maybe even ask him one of the thousand questions constantly swimming in my mind, like, “Why don’t you stick out your tongue like Michael Jordan?” “Have you ever done a 360 dunk?” “Did you say ‘The Karate Kid’ is your favorite movie during your free throws against the Celtics last week?”

Last week I got the chance to go into the Jazz locker room for the first time in my life, and I had free reign to ask any question I wanted. Although it didn’t seem like the right time to ask Deron Williams if he preferred boxers or briefs–because he was just getting out of the shower and I didn’t want him showing me which one he preferred–it was a pretty cool feeling knowing I could have asked him.

In other words, it really made me feel special to be in that locker room, like that time I memorized my fives times tables faster than any other kid in third grade, and Mrs. Lloyd gave me a special candy cane from her special drawer.

As I was interviewing the Jazz players, I started wondering if there were people out there who were like me and had questions for a professional or college athlete, but they just lacked the access to these people.

Maybe there is someone out there who is wondering why nobody asked coach Whittingham why he kicked a 57-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the first half when there was still the time and downs available to run another play.

Maybe there is some girl out there that wants to know what Brian Johnson’s favorite cologne is, so she can buy him a bottle in hopes of being his next girlfriend.

Maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there that is really wondering if Williams prefers boxers or briefs.

I thought about it for a couple days and decided that I want to be there for those people that have questions they are dying to ask but maybe have a restraining order against them that is preventing them from getting those questions answered. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I help those people and all the others get the answers they so desperately desire?”

So I’ve decided to take the questions that three readers of The Chronicle are dying to ask their favorite–or not-so-favorite–athlete and do my darnedest to get those questions answered, even if it means getting beaten down by Ute center Kyle Gunther for asking him who has gentler hands, Brett Ratliff or Brian Johnson.

I will take these questions, find the answers and give you, the reader, the answers in a portion of the sports section we will call Pizza’s Deliveries, because heaven knows I’m not the only person wondering if Misha Radojevic would consider growing a mustache so he can legitimately become Adam Morrison’s stunt double.