Greg Ostertag's 7'2", 280-pound frame often overshadowed his success when he filled the lane for Kansas and later, over 11 NBA seasons, for the Jazz and the Kings. His lumbering presence may have been an easy target for wisecracks, yet with Ostertag in the middle, Kansas reached the Final Four in 1993, and Utah made its only two Finals appearances, in '97 and '98. The center never played on a team with a losing record.
Now five years retired, the 38-year-old draws attention as much for his diverse activities as he does for his size. Every Wednesday, Ostertag—who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife, Heidi, and their three children, Cody, 17, Shelby, 11, and Bailey, 14—straps on size 16 skates at the Ice Den, where he plays in a rec hockey league, no checking allowed. ("They couldn't afford the insurance," he says.) Four times a week he tees off at D.C. Ranch, with clubs cut two inches longer than standard, to a five handicap. And once in a while, on special events, he bakes customized cakes. "It's definitely a topic of conversation that an ex-NBA guy is into baking," says Bob Fredericks, basketball coach of Scottsdale Christian Academy, where Cody competes and where Greg volunteers as a coach. "But what makes Greg interesting to our kids is all his different activities."
Ostertag won't be the next Food Network star. He drew interest in baking as a child after watching his mother, Jean, but his secret formula lies in a Betty Crocker box. He saves his creativity for cake designs, which he sketches onto paper stencils. He then stacks pots, pans or any other supports he can find to prop up his flour-and-sugar canvas (kitchen counters can test a 7-foot pâtissier's back) and draws out his illustrations in icing.
Ostertag's designs have included a football field, for a Super Bowl XLIII party; a soccer scene, for Shelby's birthday; and a Scottsdale Christian Eagles logo for a team event. "They're not up to cake-baker standards," Ostertag admits. But his modesty masks pride. For saved on Ostertag's cellphone is a photo of each cake—a trophy case for his edible achievements.