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Readers get chance to be heard

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It's time for readers to be heard.

This is the last NBA column of the season, and maybe the last ever, at least from me, since one never knows what could happen around here between now and next fall. So, with that in mind, I'd like to leave you with a taste of what your fellow readers are thinking — and writing.

Greg Ostertag is a common e-mail topic among readers who sound as frustrated with his play as Jerry Sloan. One woman reader wrote way back in December: "He (Ostertag) decides to play good BB when he wants to and not before. It's so glaring a fact that a person must be blind not to see it, including Greg himself."

Which would explain a lot, if only it were true. The blindness, I mean.

After a column about Kobe Bryant, a reader objected to the Laker star being referred to as "innocent until proven guilty." "Is he not the same person who admittedly cheated on his wife?" he wrote. "Can you explain to your faithful readers why we simply dismiss this moral crime because it doesn't appear to be a civil one?"

No, I can't.

Another reader agreed with me that a Denver columnist's article criticizing the choice of Andrei Kirilenko as an All-Star over Carmelo Anthony was weak. He wrote: "Kirilenko has been the leader of a team that really has no right doing as well as they have, probably the most overachieving team in history."

On the same topic, another wrote: "I thought Carmelo Anthony was going to be a refreshing addition to the NBA. Like many athletes, however, the more you learn about Carmelo the less you think about him. The opposite is true about Kirilenko."

And I cross my fingers it remains that way.

A column stating that Karl Malone was the only one to blame for his departure from Utah brought a lot of e-mail, including this: "I was (almost) always a Malone supporter when he was here. Even when he shot his mouth off, I just kind of laughed it off . . . When he went to L.A. for $1.5m, then I was (ticked) . . . Dwight Manley is a cancer, and Karl is terminal."

Ouch. Malone also inspired this e-mail: "It's just a shame an adult has to stoop so low and act so childish about something he started from the get-go."

(An interesting aside: Past Malone columns have always generated both pro and con responses, but this one didn't generate a single e-mail in support of Malone.)

After a column about Sloan, a reader offered the opinion that the Jazz coach deserves more than a coach of the year award. "If Jerry Sloan is to be truly honored and recognized as the true quality COACH he is, there is only one thing to be done and that is: appoint him into the coaching staff of the USA Team! And better off, name him the Head Coach!"

Which I think is a good idea but only if you let Sloan pick his own team, so he doesn't end up with a bunch of uncoachable egomaniacs.

When I wrote that it was bewildering to hear some people shrug off the Jazz's effort to nail down the eighth playoff spot, a reader agreed wholeheartedly. "It is a cause for celebration, not for saying 'It doesn't matter!' " he wrote. "Making the playoffs . . . defines both the character and talent of a team."

Gee, I wish I'd written that.

You may have noticed that this year's reader e-mail report was sadly lacking in the usual assortment of readers calling me a bonehead or questioning my parentage or worse.

What can I say. I tried.

Anyway, to all those who read and write, and even to those who read and don't write, and even to those who look at my column picture and say, "You know, that doesn't look anything like you," I say, thanks for the feedback. Good or bad, it makes writing this a lot more fun.

E-mail: rich@desnews.com