"It's over," said Howard Eisley with obvious relief in his voice and a smile on his face between chugs of a bottled thirst quencher. "It's over."
Utah Jazz training camp ended with a short practice Wednesday morning in Boise.While most of the team was relieved, Shandon Anderson was pained, literally, after camp closed for the season. Anderson, a second-year guard who was one of the camp's bright spots, got a severe migraine headache shortly after Wednesday's practice and was taken to a local Boise hospital to be examined.
He was still in pain Wednesday afternoon when he, with the rest of the team, returned to Salt Lake City. He did not practice with the team Thursday morning at Westminster College, however, instead spending time at the doctor's office.
The weeklong training camp, the coaches said, was a success.
Here's a look back at Jazz Camp '97:
CAMP MVP: Who else? Karl Malone. The Mailman had "probably his best camp ever" said coach Jerry Sloan. Malone, unlike the other thirtysomething players on the team, never missed a drill and showed that he may well be in the best shape of his long career. But Malone was also the MVP of the camp off the court. He made things interesting in what would have otherwise been a mundane week with his comments about out of shape teammates, the Jazz front office and disrespect.
MOST READY FOR THE TOUR DE FRANCE: John Stockton. The star point guard missed most of the on-court drills from Saturday due to a sore left knee. Instead of practicing on the court, he rode a stationary bicycle during much of the time. Runners-up include center Antoine Carr and guard Jeff Hornacek, who both spent plenty of time pedaling.
BEST CONFESSION: Greg Ostertag. Malone called some of his teammates fat (expletive for rear ends) prior to camp, but he didn't mention names. Ostertag outed one of them - himself. "It's nobody's fault but mine that I'm not in shape," he said.
MOST SURPRISING: Troy Hudson. The undrafted rookie from Southern Illinois showed flashes of brilliance. In crunch time of one tight scrimmage, Hudson drained a 3-pointer and then picked Eisley for a clean steal and a breakaway layup - for five points in about 10 seconds. It proved to be the difference in the scrimmage.
MOST IMPROVED: Anderson. He looked physically stronger and much more confident than the previous season. Of course, then he was a second-round pick who faced long odds of even making the team.
THANKS FOR COMING: Bryon Ruffner, Nate Erdmann, Greg Dreiling, Hudson and Nate Green all came to a camp with non-guaranteed contracts. Since there are 12 players who have guarantees, it looked like making the team would be tough for any of them. It still does. While all five "outsiders" had their moments, the other 12 did nothing to lose their jobs. Chris Morris, who some felt was vulnerable, came back in better shape than he had in past years and, frankly, out-played Erdmann.
MOST FLOOR BURNS: First-round pick Jacque Vaughn showed he's not afraid of contact - he, like all Jazz point guards, set hard screens on the big guys - and he is willing to dive after loose balls.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Byron Russell. Two years ago he was seldom used by the Jazz. Last season he started and was a major contributor. This season his goal is to make the NBA all-star team.
The Jazz will open the exhibition season Saturday in the Delta Center against the Charlotte Hornets. The regular season begins Oct. 31 on the road against the Lakers.