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WHEN IT COMES TO VEGGIES, STOCK PREFERS TO PASS

SHARE WHEN IT COMES TO VEGGIES, STOCK PREFERS TO PASS

No one's ever accused John Stockton of being a motor-mouth. He'd rather let his talent do the talking.

Brag? No, he'll "pass," thank you.Give him an "assist," however, and he'll share some interesting insights into his personality.

Here's a glimpse at the off-court life of John Stockton gleaned during a recent Jazz media day:

1. LIFE WITHOUT BASKETBALL: Professional athletes like Stockton get so identified with their sports, it's hard to imagine them doing anything else. (Picture Muhammad Ali as a newspaper reporter, for instance.)

Still, there were always other options.

"If I weren't a basketball player," Stockton says, "I would have ultimately gotten my degree in business and pursued a career there. It's tough to tell. A lot of things can change your life in an instant. I was really into football, for instance, when a couple of plays made me rethink things completely and go another direction."

2. WORDS TO LIVE BY: If Stockton could post one phrase on his wall, what would it be?

"Probably this: If you aren't practicing, someone else is.

"Actually, my advice for kids wouldn't fit in a phrase. I'd say give yourself as many opportunities as you can. Play basketball, play football, run track, do your school work. Don't close any doors before you have a chance to move through them."

3. PLAY TIME: When not playing basketball, what does he enjoy?

"Playing with my kids."

4. ONE UP ON THE PRESIDENT: President Bush made waves when he said he never ate broccoli. John Stockton, however, doesn't believe in showing discrimination.

"Broccoli?" He says. "Actually there aren't many vegetables I do like."

If you're afraid such talk will give kids an excuse for passing on the peas, remember: He said he didn't like them, he never said he didn't eat them.

5. TWO OF A KIND: You could probably make a case that John Stockton is the Ryne Sandberg of basketball and Sandberg - of the Chicago Cubs - is the John Stockton of baseball.

It's not an idle comparison. Both are boyish, decent types with an understated Western manner and a tremendous work ethic. But then they grew up within shouting distance of each other in Spokane, Wash.

Still, Sandberg told the Deseret News he remembered playing basketball against Stockton and follows his career, but has never really known him.

Stockton confirms that.

"It's funny," he says. "I played a basketball game against Ryne when he was a senior and I was a sophomore. I know about him, and root for him, but I really don't know him."

With Sandberg making his winter home in Phoenix, maybe an overdue meeting's in order. The Jazz might consider dropping Sandberg a couple of tickets to a Suns game. Better yet, how about a seat next to the Jazz bench?