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MailTribune.com
  • Stockton's wife, Nada, hails from Medford

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  • Hours before game time, Nada Stockton was calm, cool and collected.
    Just like her husband, 37-year-old Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton, appears on the basketball court.
    I don't get nervous until the fourth quarter, says Nada Stockton, who graduated from St. Mary's High of Medford in 1980 prior to attending Gonzaga University.
    Nada, 37, who was known as Nada Stepovich when she played basketball, volleyball and competed in track and field for St. Mary's, would meet John Stockton in 1982 on campus at Gonzaga, and they were married shortly thereafter.
    The couple has lived in Salt Lake City for nearly 12 years, while Stockton has played for the Jazz.
    Stockton and the Jazz kept their NBA Western Conference semifinal series with the Portland Trail Blazers going on Tuesday night with a convincing victory.
    Trailing three games to one, the Jazz had to win Tuesday's game, or it would be vacation time. Nada Stockton admitted she was nervous about an hour before she left for the game.
    It's just a basketball game, says Nada. Usually, when we lose, I can say there's always the next game. But we can't lose this one (Tuesday's game) and I don't think we will.
    Game six of the series will be played tonight in Portland.
    Matilda Stepovich, Nada's mother who still lives in Medford with her husband, Mike, says she finds it difficult to root for the home-state Blazers in the series against the Jazz, or in any games. She knows most of her friends are rooting for Portland.
    Almost all of our friends are Blazer fans, says Matilda. It's hard to talk about it with them when it's going on right now.
    But most of them don't say much to us about it because they know how hard it is.
    Mike Stepovich, who grew up in Portland, says he likes the Blazers. But not when they're playing the Jazz.
    Portland has a great young team, says Mike, the former Territorial Governor of Alaska from 1958 through '60, and a long-time attorney in Fairbanks, Alaska. But there's no question who I'm rooting for here.
    John (Stockton) is my son and a member of the family, says Mike. More than his basketball, he's a good father with a good head on him. But when he married my daughter, he was the one who got the break.
    John's a great player, but the personal side of him is my favorite part. He went over 13,000 assists this year to break the NBA record. I don't think that will be broken.
    Matilda and Mike Stepovich have 13 children. Matilda says she looks at John Stockton as her own son.
    I treat all my kids and their spouses the same, she says. John is family, and we're all loyal to him and the team.
    We've gone to six or seven Jazz home games this year, says Matilda. These guys are heroes in that town, and it's something to be there to watch them play.
    Nada and John Stockton have five children. Houston Stockton, 11, was shown on television in tears following Utah's loss to Portland last week in game two of the series at Salt Lake City.
    Houston's father had just missed a difficult, twisting layup as time ran out, denying the Jazz a chance to send the game into overtime.
    He was stunned more that we lost than that his dad missed the shot, says Nada. He knows his dad is human. It was much more disappointment toward the team than his dad.
    Houston Stockton and his brother, Michael, 10, played for the same youth basketball team in Salt Lake City this season.
    They won their league and city championships, says Nada. John ended up helping as the assistant coach of the team. That was a lot of fun for John and the boys.
    Nada says her children sleep on the couch at home after Jazz games, waiting for their father to come home and carry them upstairs to bed.
    It's become kind of a tradition, says Nada. When we lose, it's good therapy for John. It puts things into perspective as far as family being the most important thing and that losing is something you can get over.
    John has been through it all.
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