"Stock rolled his ankle in Orlando one night, then came back out and played the rest of the game," Briggs recalls, noting that while The Mailman was a physical specimen who was seemingly indestructible, Stockton was equally as tough. "That was the first time I knew how tough John was. One night he slapped at a ball, missed and hit a guy's leg. He had to have 15 or 20 stitches in his finger, but he never missed a game.
"He and Karl's mental toughness was the best I've ever seen. There was some peer pressure when John and Karl were willing to play hurt. Some guys probably would've sat out, but with Karl and John setting the tone for the team, that's where leadership and toughness comes in.
"One of the things you have to realize is everybody's got a different pain tolerance," Briggs said. "Some guys can deal with it and some guys can't. It's not something you can teach — some guys are born with it. It's something that, by the time we get 'em (in the NBA), if they don't have it by now, they're not ever gonna have it.
"Unfortunately, nowadays, you see a lot of guys who don't have it. It definitely has changed over the years. But not one trainer in this league would ever ask a guy to play if he thought that player would injure himself worse by playing."
Injuries have certainly played a part in Utah's 2012-13 season, just like they have for every other NBA team as well. In all, Jazz players have missed a total of almost 160 games this season due to injury.
Starting point guard Mo Williams suffered a thumb injury that forced him to have surgery and miss 32 games; swingman Gordon Hayward missed 10 games with a sprained shoulder; and Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Marvin Williams and Mo Williams each sat out four or more games this season due to assorted ankle, foot and leg injuries.
What's more, a couple of weeks ago, backup big man Enes Kanter was lost for the season with a dislocated shoulder.
It's all part of the job — especially Briggs' job.
"Unfortunately, we had the injury with Mo and that took him out of 32 games, so that just is a constant thing," Briggs said. "... And then we had two big guys go down at the same time with Al and Paul, so each day takes on its own bit of a life, especially if you're struggling a little bit.
"Sports medicine has advanced a long way, but the body still has to heal itself. We try to do everything we can to try and trick it and speed it up and stuff like that.
"And, as much as some people don't like to admit it, some people do heal faster than others — whether that's physical or mental, you don't ever know," he said. "What hurts badly to somebody is just simply sore to somebody else."
Briggs, a native of Long Beach, Calif., moved to Tampa, Fla., when he was 12 years old and says most of his family still lives in Florida.
Having just turned 64 years old, some folks might figure he's leaning toward retirement in the near future. But Briggs is a guy who loves his job and has no intentions of hanging up his white medical tape, scissors and ice bags any time soon.
"Not until they pry the crumpled tape from my gnarled fingers," Briggs said with a laugh when asked when he'd be ready to call it quits. "I've still got a few years left in me.
"As an assistant coach once told me, the best thing about this job is it's all inside work, and there's no heavy lifting."
Maybe so, but the next time you see a Jazz player hobble off the court, be glad that Briggs is sitting there on the bench ready to do his job and get 'em back out there playing again as soon as he can.
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