It's time to start thinking about the unthinkable.
John Stockton, one of the most durable players in the NBA, who hasn't missed a regular-season Utah Jazz game since 1990, will now miss six to eight weeks after undergoing an hourlong arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday evening at Bountiful's Lakeview Hospital.Jazz orthopedist Dr. Lyle Mason performed the surgery, which began at 8:30 p.m. Monday. Mason termed the injury as "significant" and said he would expect Stockton, 35, who has missed only four games in his 13-year career, to be out at least six to eight weeks of the regular season.
The regular season begins Oct. 31, when the Jazz travel to Los Angeles.
At the minimum of six weeks, Stockton would be out until Nov. 25 and miss 13 games. Eight weeks of recovery would mean he would miss 21 games - more than one-fourth of the regular season.
"This is a joint-surface injury," said Mason. "There was a loose piece of cartilage in the joint, which was removed. The rest of the joint was perfectly normal."
Following the removal of the cartilage, Mason performed a micro-fracture technique to seal the defect.
Stockton has been experiencing soreness in his left knee since the opening of training camp on Oct. 3 in Boise and sat out some practices - unusual for the Jazz point guard, who generally trash talks to teammates who sit out.
He played 20 minutes and scored 14 points with eight assists in Utah's first preseason game in the Delta Center last Saturday vs. Charlotte, but he didn't play Sunday night in El Paso in the Jazz's win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Stockton had fluid drained from his knee prior to the game in El Paso and underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Monday morning. That determined the source of the problem.
Stockton has played 609 consecutive regular-season games, the third-longest active streak in the NBA. He is the NBA's career leader in assists (12,170) and steals (2,531). He's a two-time Olympic gold medalist and was a member of the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Along with teammate Karl Malone, Stockton played on the original Olympic Dream Team in 1992, though a broken leg bone limited his participation. He and Malone were also members of Dream Team III in 1996. The United States teams won gold medals each time.
Stockton was drafted by the Jazz with the 16th pick of the 1984 NBA Draft out of Spokane's Gonzaga University. He signed a three-year deal reportedly worth $15 million with the Jazz in October 1996.