Stockton endures ceremony

? It was practically torture for John Stockton, sitting there through more than an hour of accolades and standing ovations.

Almost reluctantly, Stockton sat through it all in a 90-minute retirement celebration that nearly filled the Delta Center and drew more than a few tears.

“Now that it’s over, it’s great. It was kind of like a hard workout,” Stockton said.

Stockton, known throughout his 19-year career for his modesty, admitted he would have much rather gone off into retirement quietly, but Jazz owner Larry Miller and Stockton’s wife, Nada, talked him in to agreeing to the emotional event.

The celebration drew former teammates and NBA commissioner David Stern, who took a detour on his way to New Jersey for the NBA Finals to give Stockton a proper sendoff, even if he didn’t want it.

“I try to block it out most things,” Stockton said. “It’s emotional and I don’t really like to go there a lot. All those people there, I try not to pay a lot of attention.”

Stockton announced two days after the season ended that he was through playing, but could not bring himself to say he was retiring. The word retirement didn’t surface again Saturday, but the NBA career leader in steals and assists said he was quite certain he was sticking with his decision.