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STOCKTON IS HEALED AND READY TO PLAY AGAIN

Utah Jazz orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Mason says superstar John Stockton should be "100 percent" ready to return to the court once training camp begins Oct. 9.

Stockton, who fractured his leg during the Tournament of the Americas last June, missed the rest of the Tournament, but was playing limited minutes by the end of the Olympics. As expected, the fracture has healed and Mason says to expect the Jazz's All-Star point guard to be "virtually indestructible."Although Mason hasn't performed the pre-camp physical on Stockton, he said, "From what I understand, John is back in his regular preseason (training) regimen."

"There's not a problem whatsoever," continued Mason. "He should be back 100 percent. He's virtually indestructible."

The injury to Stockton occurred during a Tournament of the Americas game when he collided with Michael Jordan. Though never considered career-threatening, the injury did keep him from playing until the medal round of the Olympics. "The only thing about the fracture was just that the timing was awful," said Mason. "It took him out when he didn't really want to be out. Other than that, the fracture wasn't particularly troublesome. It was the type you could basically beat with a stick and it would still heal. Once it heals up, it's ancient history."

The Jazz doctor also predicted Stockton, who spent most of the summer in Spokane, will consider recovering from the injury as "a kind of mental challenge."

"When John comes to training camp, I'll bet he comes in harder than a rock," added Mason. "He has an iron body."

Stockton now faces no more risk of injury than any other person, Mason said. A bigger factor will probably be the prospect of of returning to basketball after a short summer.

"It depends on how they feel in terms of the time they've had to rest," Mason said of Olympians Stockton and Karl Malone. "If they come into camp feeling exhausted, yes, I have some concerns about two-a-days. But these are probably two of the tougher guys on the team. I'd be surprised if they have any problems."

Jazz coaches have already indicated they may have Stockton and Malone skip some practice sessions during training camp.