SALT LAKE CITY - There was a moment Monday morning during the Jazz's annual media day circus when rookie Trey Burke very nearly committed a flagrant faux pas.
Seated in front of a large gathering of notebooks, recorders, microphones and cameras, the 20-year-old point guard raved about his recent workouts with Jazz Hall of Famer John Stockton. Burke said he was practically starstruck at even meeting the NBA's all-time assist leader and the man many Jazz fans consider to be a legend.
And then ...
"It was first and foremost an honor to meet him, to have the opportunity to work out with a Hall of Fame point guard," Burke said. "(Stockton is) arguably one of the best point guards ever."
Forgive him, Jazz fans. He's a rookie. He didn't know any better.
O.K., that was a tongue-in-cheek assessment of Burke's comments. But all kidding aside, many Jazz fans would argue with the use of the word "arguably." In other circles, sure, there might be a debate as to whether Stockton, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas or Oscar Robertson qualifies as the greatest-ever point guard.
But in Utah? Inside the Zions Bank Basketball Center? Underneath a stenciled version of Stockton's retired No. 12 jersey?
Not a chance.
The funny thing is, the one person in the Jazz family who likely wouldn't take exception to the word "arguably" is the man himself: John Stockton.
The self-deprecating 51-year-old isn't ready to begin a coaching career but since his retirement in 2003 he has been willing to help the Jazz by giving a few pointers to their new point guards.
In 2005 they sent Deron Williams up to visit Stockton's home in Spokane, Wash., and this summer it was Burke's turn to meet his mentor.
He was joined by third-year Jazzman Alec Burks, a shooting guard whom team officials believe has point guard potential.
"We just worked on a lot of shooting, a lot of pick-and-roll things," Burke said. "I think I learned a lot going up to Spokane and working out with him. I definitely think it was beneficial for me and Alec."
The Jazz traded up in the draft to acquire Burke, a Michigan product and winner of the John R. Wooden Award and the Associated Press College Player of the Year award. As they prepared to turn the team over to young veterans Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, Jazz brass coveted a point guard with star potential and they targeted Burke, who was taken with the No. 9 overall pick.
Expectations were immediately sky high but they were tempered somewhat when Burke struggled in the Orlando Summer League, where he shot just 24 percent from the field and 5.2 percent (1-for-19) from behind the 3-point line.
Stockton saw Burke's summer performance and told him not to be in such a hurry, so to speak.
"(Being patient) is a point that John - John Stockton - was telling me about," Burke said. "He said in summer league he felt like I was rushing a lot of things, playing really fast. He told me to be patient out there, make sure that I'm getting my teammates involved."
Burke said Stockton offered some specific advice that struck a chord.
"He said something that stuck with me, he said 'The better passer you are the better scorer you're gonna be,'" Burke explained. "Guys expect you to pass (and) a lot of times you're gonna be open when the ball comes to you."
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said he has seen a "tremendous" improvement in Burke between summer league and training camp, which opened on Tuesday.
"He has a better idea - more than he did then - of what to expect," he said. "There's still a lot of things he has to learn but he's better prepared now from his experiences from the summer."
Predictably, Burke said the time spent with Stockton was excellent. Of course he also said he's not so sure about the inevitable comparisons between the two.
"Obviously I don't think my name should be mentioned with his anytime soon," he said. "I obviously know I have a lot to prove, I know I have a lot of high expectations."
But the truth is, the two names have already been linked and, fair or not, comparisons will be made.
"It's an honor," he said.
Now that's more like it, right Jazz fans?
Contact reporter Jim Burton at 801-625-4265, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo.