Oh, baby! New dad Blake Ahearn arrives to help short-handed Utah Jazz
By Steve Luhm
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Apr 10 2012 02:10PM
When the Utah Jazz called and offered a 10-day contract, Blake Ahearn was hesitant to leave his home in St. Louis.
On March 19, Ahearn’s wife gave birth to a daughter. The couple’s first child weighed only 4 pounds and 1 ounce, however. She has spent the past three weeks in intensive care, where she remains.
Still, Ahearn’s wife, a college athlete, urged him to pursue the opportunity. He practiced with the Jazz for the first time on Tuesday.
"She knows what it’s all about," Ahearn said. "When I got the call, I think she was the first one to kick me out the door. …
"She’s been very supportive. She knows what I have been working for. And our families are from St. Louis, so they’re in good hands."
Ahearn reports his daughter is improving.
"I think she was 4 pounds and 10 ounces [Monday] night," he said. "So she’s getting chubby. … I have a lot to play for."
Ahearn has not played since leaving the NBA Development League’s Reno Bighorns for his daughter’s birth. But he has been working out "just in case I got a call."
Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor contacted Ahearn after Earl Watson and C.J. Miles were injured in Monday’s 114-104 loss at San Antonio, which left the Jazz with 10 healthy players.
"It’s been a lot of emotions for me these couple of weeks," Ahearn said. "I’m just excited they picked up the phone."
Ahearn averaged 23.8 points and 5.1 assists in 37 games for the Bighorns. He shot 40 percent from the 3-point line.
"I play hard. I’m a skill player," he said. "I kind of hang my hat on shooting and passing."
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin calls Ahearn "a combination guard, probably more of a point. He’s a really good shooter and can get you into your offense. We’ll use him that way."
Ahearn will be the No. 3 point guard behind Devin Harris and Jamaal Tinsley, but he might play alongside one or the other, considering the Jazz’s injuries.
"It’s a great opportunity for him because we are short-handed," said Corbin.
Evans injured, too
The Jazz’s injury situation got worse in Monday night’s 91-84 win over the Spurs when Jeremy Evans sprained his ankle.
He is listed as a game-time decision Wednesday night at Houston. If Evans can’t play, the Jazz will again have only 10 players available, including Ahearn.
Veteran forward Josh Howard has been talking optimistically about returning soon from a knee injury he suffered on March 18, but it’s not going to happen.
According to Corbin, doctors have told Howard that his injury needs four weeks to heal before he can resume working out.
"He thought he was feeling good enough to start doing some more work," Corbin said.