Rick Carlisle had one of the surprises of his life a few days ago while walking to a restaurant in Toronto.
To the Dallas Mavericks coach’s amazement, Carlisle ran into one of his players – rookie free agent forward Jarrod Uthoff. And Uthoff’s selection of food that night took Carlisle by surprise.
“I like that he’s very creative on the road with his food situation,” Carlisle said of Uthoff. “I saw him in Toronto at a convenience store and he was buying a loaf of bread and some deli meat and he was getting ready to make sandwiches for the next three days and I said, ‘Hey, you’re on an NBA per diem now, you can splurge a little bit.’
“I pulled my credit card out, I offered to pay for his bread and deli meat. And it turned out they had already swiped his [credit] card.”
The NBA per diem is $106 a day. But Uthoff, who is working on his second 10-day contract with the Mavs, said he wasn’t trying to save money.
“I just got some healthy bread and some stuff,” Uthoff said. “It was 9 or 10 at night and I didn’t want to go searching for a restaurant, so I got the healthiest option available.”
Uthoff explained that he didn’t purchase a huge loaf of bread.
“It only had like 10 slices in it,” Uthoff said. “So I made five sandwiches and it went in like a day or so.”
So what was Uthoff’s expression when he first saw Carlisle? “He was going to Subway, so he gave me kind of a crazy look.”
Guard Manny Harris, who also is working on his second 10-day contract, can sympathize with Uthoff.
“If that’s what he wants to eat, it’s cool,” Harris said. “Ain’t nothing wrong with it, I eat sandwiches.
“Different strokes for different folks. I mean, I wasn’t doing that. They were providing food for us at hotels, so I eat as much of that as I can. Other than that, I still go find something good.”
When asked if he did anything like buy a loaf of bread and deli meat during his playing days, Carlisle said: “I didn’t. But I did other things I’m not going to talk about.”
An undrafted rookie free agent out of Iowa, Uthoff has played in only two NBA games – both with the Mavs. The 6-foot-9, 220-pounder has played a total of five minutes, has no points, one rebound and one blocked shot – and one (small) loaf of bread.
“Hey listen, this is the life of a minor league guy that’s working to make it,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to be resourceful, you’ve got to be thrifty.
“Look, it’s a lot of work getting called up in the NBA, and to get a second 10-day contact ... I compliment him. The fact that he got it with only one game tells you that he’s done some good things here.”