SALT LAKE CITY -- I knew right away it wasn't a 10-day contract. Even for just 10 days, those things are thick with more legalese than an episode of L.A. Law.
But so what, a guy can dream, can't he? Even in the middle of an NBA lockout.
The sad truth of it is, I knew exactly what that piece of paper was the nice lady was sliding in front of me Wednesday morning at the Zions Bank Basketball Center.
It was a liability waiver, not a contract.
See, the Utah Jazz invited me and several other members of the local media to participate in a mock training camp at the team's practice facility. Because of the lockout, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin and his staff are without any actual players to instruct, so they figured it might be fun to hone their motivational skills on a bunch of out-of-shape sportswriters and broadcasters.
No, the Jazz front office people weren't looking to find a diamond in the rough. They were looking to make sure they weren't going to be found liable if a media member keeled over trying to do a routine layup.
So I signed and dated the piece of paper.
And I'm glad I did.
Afterward, I made my way into the team's locker room, where I found a stall with my name on it and a fairly detailed practice itinerary sitting on my chair.
I quickly suited up, laced up my brand new basketball shoes and began asking my colleagues, "Can you believe this?"
Nobody could. See, normally when we cover a Jazz practice we go through the front door and walk directly to the courts where we wait for the players to come sauntering out of the locker room. Then we corner them, ask bothersome questions and leave to go file our stories.
Until that moment, none of us had ever been on the other side of the wall. And so we walked around in awe, giggling like schoolgirls until the second Corbin and his assistants marched through the doors.
"All right, everybody listen up," he said with a firm, authoritative voice. "Here's how we're gonna do things."
Instantly, the joking stopped and the listening started. If any of us thought it was going to be play time he was sorely mistaken.
They told us to keep our shirts tucked in ... pay attention ... listen up when the coaches are talking. Have fun, Corbin said, but take it seriously because he intended to challenge us every step of the way. Oh and anyone who felt he needed to get his ankles taped by the training staff had better do so quickly.
I followed veteran athletic trainer Gary Briggs into another room and vaulted myself onto a training table, where Briggs did a masterful job of taping me up. Looking back on it, that might have been one of the best decisions I've ever made because over the next 90 or so minutes Corbin and his staff did exactly what they said they were going to do: They pushed us.
Although they understood we weren't NBA players -- far from it, actually -- they put us through the same practice the Jazz would go through, only with about half the speed and intensity.
It started out with stretching and warm-ups, progressed to shooting and defensive drills and finally to full-court games of five-on-five "cutthroat" wherein we were expected to at least try to run a few small elements of the Jazz offense.
It concluded with a free throw challenge in which any one of us could step up and attempt a shot. If he made it, great. If not, everyone had to run the length of the court, down and back.
All we needed were three makes.
You'd think that wouldn't take long, but I swear we ran the floor at least a dozen times before the third shot fell.
Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek, a career 87 percent free throw shooter, just shook his head and laughed.
If you consider yourself a cynic, you might think the Jazz put this little media training camp together to win our favor during the lockout and beyond. Me? I think they've got bigger issues to deal with.
Instead, I think this was an opportunity to open some eyes and have a little fun. We in the media got to see a different side of Corbin and his staff and they got to see us in a different light, too.
In the end I came away with two prevailing thoughts. First, Corbin is an excellent coach. All the Xs and Os aside, he's a born leader and a really good motivator.
Secondly -- and this speaks to my first thought -- I was astonished at how easily those coaches fostered a sense of teamwork among sportswriters and broadcasters who don't always see eye-to-eye on things.
By the end of the day I was surprised to see how we openly rooted for each other to succeed and I was shocked at how much I cared about my "teammates."
Oh, and I was also pleasantly surprised nobody keeled over doing a layup.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247