John Stockton, the ironman point guard for the Utah Jazz, dislikes missing practice almost as much as he hates missing a game. Fortunately, neither happens often.
But Stockton sat out the Jazz's Sunday morning workout at Boise State University with a sore, swollen left knee. He missed much of Saturday evening's session for the same problem."Sitting is no fun for me," said Stockton. "Hopefully I'll be back and running tomorrow."
The irony of Stockton's situation is that he is usually the one giving teammates a hard time for missing practice. Sunday he received a healthy dose of his own medicine.
"I like to chirp at guys who sit out," he said. "Now they are chirping at me."
Unlike backcourt mate Jeff Hornacek, who has played with a nagging sore left knee for several seasons, Stockton's problem is new.
"This hasn't been a problem before," he said. "I just must of banged it in practice."
Jazz trainers said having Stockton sit out was a precaution. He may be back on the court today when two practices are scheduled.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is not concerned about Stockton missing practice time for obvious reasons. "He knows what we are doing better than we (the coaches) do," said Sloan. "He's in great condition and takes care of himself."
Plus, Stockton's absence is giving Jazz coaches the chance to get a better look at the other three point guards in camp - third-year backup Howard Eisley, first-round draft pick Jacque Vaughn and rookie free agent Troy Hudson.
"I like all those guys," said Sloan. "The young guys have done very well . . . Jacque has played hard. He's a very intelligent guy. Troy Hudson has also played extremely hard."
Hudson, who averaged 21 points per game the past two seasons at Southern Illinois, will almost assuredly be the odd man out in the numbers game. Both Eisley and Vaughn have guaranteed contracts and are more polished players.
And while Eisley is the incumbent back-up to Stockton, Vaughn isn't conceding anything yet.
"I came in with the highest of all expectations," said Vaughn. "I hope to think that the fans and my teammates will feel that I was a steal (late) in the first round."
The battles between Eisley and Vaughn in training camp have already become intense. Vaughn is convinced the duo will be able to have a "friendly rivalry," however.
"I can elbow him and I expect him to elbow me back," said Vaughn "We could bust each other's lips when we are between the lines. But then I'd still take him out to dinner when it's all over. I don't hold grudges. That's part of the game."
Vaughn was one of the nation's best floor leaders and passers in college. He holds the all-time assist record at Kansas. But his shooting touch has been a question mark.
"In college I didn't need to take the shot as often as a lot of other point guards across the nation," he said. "That's not what got me here. But what is going to keep me in this league is me being able to hit that outside shot."
So, to that end, Vaughn has been working with the Jazz coaching staff on his outside shot.
"Jacque's shooting is improving," said Jazz assistant Gordon Chiesa. "His form is getting better and he's working hard on it."
Vaughn said he's asked for and received advice from Stockton, a hero of his. He's also felt the brunt of a Karl Malone screen, "but I came right back and set one on him. I'm willing to give up my body for the team as far as setting screens."
Jazz veterans have been impressed with Vaughn's work ethic. He is not like the "knuckleheads" of his generation, of which Malone spoke last season.
Jeff Hornacek "says I have an '80s-type-player attitude," said Vaughn. "That's a good compliment coming from a guy like that."
JAZZ NOTES: Two practices were scheduled for Sunday, but the evening session was called off. "I'm tired," said Sloan . . . There is no truth to the rumor that Sloan canceled the evening practice so the team could watch one of its own on network television. It is true, however, that Jazz center Greg Ostertag played himself on Sunday night's episode of "Touched By an Angel." . . . Training camp is scheduled to end on Wednesday. The exhibition opener will be Saturday in the Delta Center against the Charlotte Hornets.
Jazz training camp watch
Shandon Anderson G-FShows off his strength by posting up other guards.
Antoine Carr F-CAfter missing Saturday practice, was back at it Sunday.
Greg Dreiling C Left Sunday practice with sore Achilles but returned.
Howard Eisley G Was Jazz's top point guard with Stockton sitting out.
Nate Erdmann G College coach Kelvin Sampson watched Sunday workout.
Greg Foster C With Dreiling & Ostertag, one of three big-man Gregs.
Nate Green F At 6-7, looks undersized for an NBA power forward.
Jeff Hornacek G Wore support on sore left knee but kept practicing.
Troy Hudson G 4th point guard works hard, is sometimes out of control.
Adam Keefe F Ready for fatherhood; wife Kristen is expecting twins.
Karl Malone F Is pushing teammates to follow his hard-working example.
Chris Morris F Led stretching exercises in front of team last two days.
Greg Ostertag C "Needs to work on intensity," said one Jazz insider.
Bryon Ruffner F Re-injured his previously sore ribs, but he returned.
Bryon Russell F Keeps on smiling even during training camp practices.
John Stockton G Sat out Sunday's lone practice due to sore left knee.
Jacque Vaughn G Enjoys receiving instructions from Professor Stockton.