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Stock, Mailman `quacking' but focused

Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller isn't all that concerned about remarks made by Karl Malone and John Stockton Thursday.

"They are quacking for the right reasons," said Miller. ". . . I think they are just focusing in."Prior to departing to Idaho for training camp, which begins today at the Boise State University's Pavilion, Malone and Stockton joined teammates for pictures and a media availabilty at the Delta Center.

Malone, who was disappointed with the physical condition of some of his teammates, said he was offended by management comments at contract-signing press conferences over the summer. The NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player wasn't happy with talk about the team's future.

"I'm a little salty going into camp," said Malone, who referred to himself as "the retired old man."

The 34-year-old forward even issued a challenge to would-be successors.

"A lot of guys want to be the man on this team," he said. ". . . Do it now while I'm playing. Don't wait until I retire. That's a cop out."

Stockton, meanwhile, said he didn't want to make a circus out of what the team accomplished last year by reaching the NBA Finals.

"Boise is a great town but it's different," Stockton said of management's decision to hold camp away from southern Utah for the first time in 12 years. "That's no ill feeling toward Boise at all. I'm just hesitant to break any of our routines."

As the Jazz begin defense of their Western Conference championship, Miller admitted that if he had looked at the situation through Stockton's eyes, he "may have made a different decision."

Despite the somewhat serious tone of Stockton and Malone, the atmosphere at the gathering had its lighter side.

Jeff Hornacek declined to do a promotional spot for one radio station when he realized what was on its play list.

"I can't lie," he said. "I don't listen to country music."

When asked by a television sportscaster if the Jazz had plans to win the NBA championship, Greg Ostertag quipped "No, we want to go out in the first round." He went on to claim this summer's heat may have been caused by El Nino.

And Malone, himself, seized control of Jazz broadcaster Dave Blackwell's head set and proceeded to interview teammate Bryon Russell.

"It's always fun to get back and get started again," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

The team arrived in Boise Thursday night and began two-a-day practice sessions this morning.