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It's a secret, but Stockton had surgery on right elbow

John Stockton has undergone surgery on his right elbow.

Specific details were unavailable, but the Deseret News has learned that the operation was a success -- meaning the 37-year-old free agent should be physically able to play a 16th season in the NBA."Nobody feels as good as they did five years ago, but I would hope to be back and try it another time," Stockton said after Utah was eliminated by Portland in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.

The point guard, who was recently named to the All-NBA third team, could not be reached for comment concerning the postseason operation. Given his refusal to discuss injuries in the past, it seems unlikely Stockton ever will comment on the surgery.

Jazz officials said they had no knowledge of the procedure.

Speculation is that Stockton may have injured the elbow in his infamous collision with Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber in the first round of the playoffs last month.

In the opening seconds of Game 2 at the Delta Center, the 6-foot-10 Webber lowered a shoul- der into Stockton's right side, sending the Jazz guard hard to the floor. From that point, Stockton's postseason shooting percentage tumbled. He was 7-of-11 from the field before the foul and just 35-of-94 (37.2 percent) thereafter.

"I think John's right elbow was hurting him more than he let on during the playoffs," Jazz owner Larry H. Miller said last week. "He never said anything to me about it, but that's what I suspect . . . If John feels he can answer the bell next year, I expect him to be back."

During the regular season, Stockton shot a team-high .488 percent (13th-best in the NBA and the highest for a guard) while averaging 11.1 points and 7.5 assists.

The elbow surgery, which reportedly took place last week in California, is the second notable operation in less than two years for Stockton. He missed the first 18 games of the 1997-98 season after having torn cartilage in his left knee repaired.