Stockton willing to play with cracked leg


PORTLAND, Ore. -- Utah Jazz guard John Stockton said Tuesday night he is willing to play with the pain of a fractured leg bone to realize a boyhood dream of winning an Olympic Gold medal, but not if jeopardizes his NBA career.

Doctors for the U.S Olmpic basketball team said it is possible for Stockton to recover from the fracture to his right fibula in time for the start of the Barcelona Olympics on Aug. 9, if he can put up with the pain. Stockton cracked the small bone in his lower leg in a collision with teammate Michael Jordan in a game with Canada on Monday night.


'The whole Olympic thing is extremely important to me,' Stockton said. 'I have dreamed about it since I was a child. It is one of the most important things in my life, certainly in my career.

'If it is necessary to play in pain, I'll do it,' he said. 'I wouldn't do anything to threaten my career. But if it is pain and pain alone, I'll do it.' Stockton said the injury felt like a constant 'charlie horse.' The leg is not in a cast and he walked into the news conference and even hoisted the painful limb onto a table and pointed out the tender area to reporters.


Team doctor David Fischer said it would be up to Stockton and his NBA team, the Utah Jazz, whether he would be able to continue on the U.S. Olympic team. He said the recovery time varies from athlete to athlete.

'This is the type of injury that can remain painful for a number of weeks,' Fischer said. 'But if the athlete can function, it is a safe injury for him to continue playing with.'

Fischer said playing would not interfer with recovery if the player could withstand the pain.

He said Stockton would undergo special training while the leg heals and his progress would be monitored daily.

'With his time frame, it is possible' that Stockton will be ready for the Olympics, Fischer added.

Stockton said he will make a decision on whether to continue with the team after consulting with the Jazz and seeing how he feels in a few days.

'But my plans right now are to play,' he said. 'I know I am a fast healer.'

U.S. team spokesman Craig Miller said the team has until July 15 to submit a final roster to the International Olympic Committee. He said the team's position is that it will wait and see how Stockton does.


He said there had been no selection of alternates to replace Stockton at point guard. Possible replacements could come from the NBA and the nation's college teams.

Stockton said he suffered the injury when Jordan bashed into his knee.

'Michael Jordan was coming from somewhere for some reason, very fast,' Stockton said. 'He just caught me on the knee.

'Accidents happen,' he added. 'Michael shouldn't feel responsible for it.'

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