NBA / Sep 11, 2009 / 9:33 am

Pass the Mic: 2009 Hall of Fame honors — John Stockton

John Stockton

John Stockton

With the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony taking place today, we wanted to give the true diehard fans of the Dime Magazine community an opportunity to write about the 2009 class. Dime reader Dave Harrison, one of the most insightful Jazz fans we know, and who covered the team for a Salt Lake City TV station in the ’90s, shares his thoughts on John Stockton:

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There’s more than one reason the legendary John Wooden never hesitated to say “John Stockton” when he was asked who his favorite player was.

I grew up on John Stockton; he was drafted when I was a 9th grader. Before that, I was one of the kids who used the old, “I’ve already been in the arena but I forgot to get my ticket from my mom, will you come with me to my seat so I can get it for you?” ploy with the ticket taker to get into the Salt Palace. So when Utah picked Stockton in the first round, I thought he’d never hold Rickey Green‘s jock. I wasn’t the only one that was wrong.

We could make a list as long as your arm of his achievements, but there’s much more than records and accolades that make up Stock’s impact and greatness.

Always, always, always have respect for your coach.
From day one of his career to his last possession against Sacramento (still owe those Kings fans props for that standing O), Stockton always looked to Jerry Sloan for the play. It’s not like he didn’t know exactly what the play would be, he just knew Jerry was the coach and he was the player, and Jerry was the boss, period.

Setting a good, effective pick is everybody’s job.
Of all the things Sloan said Stockton did better than anyone else, it was setting picks down low against guys 100 pounds heavier and never backing down that stands out the most. Weaker players and coaches looking for an angle called him dirty. Whatever. He just played the game like it was supposed to be played, no phantom screens, no weak cuts to the basket, no “ole” defense — just good, hard, clean basketball, every possession of every game.

Loyalty to your team, coach, and teammates, and not complaining about the deal you cut is the way to handle business.
In the long run, the goodwill he built and character he portrayed will continue to pay off for him for as many years after basketball as he wants. I wonder how Carlos Boozer will cash in his goodwill fortune when he retires?



You win games at practice.
Between Mailman and Stock, the Jazz practices were never short on competition and hard work. A story in the Salt Lake Tribune this week quoted Sloan saying in all of the years Stockton played, he only ever lost at wind sprints once, and that was because he was sick. He won his last wind-sprint race at 41, and had a wind-sprint record of something like 2,197-1. That’s 26,363 freaking guys he beat at wind sprints in his career. Calbert Cheaney probably had a t-shirt made celebrating the only win over Stock.

Don’t make excuses.
So what if there’s an injury or you’re playing Michael Jordan; if you lose a game, it’s your own team’s fault. No weak blaming of the officials, or the mean, scary, loud arena with motorcycle exhaust, or the bad hotel food.

And when the national anthem is playing, put your hand on your heart, pay attention, and give due respect to those who granted you the right to make millions playing basketball.

There is only one stat that ever mattered to Stock: W’s. Stockton’s first words to a new teammate were “Where do you like to catch the ball?” Stockton didn’t wear tats or jewelry, instead he wore one of his three faded red Garanimals polo shirts that were too small after every game for 19 years. Frankly, he didn’t care what anyone but the owner, the coach, and his family thought of him.

Greatest point guard of all time? When you add up the things that really matter, it’s pretty hard to argue against Stock.

— Dave Harrison

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  • Mike

    Mike will get a lot of the media noise, but Stockton’s jump in the air after hitting that three against Houston is still one of my top basketball memories.

    Daily NBA Trade Rumors

  • stanaeciouz

    stockton to malone still rings on my ears….

  • http://smack! JOB33

    Please tell me you are serious that it was Garanimals polos, and that you’re not being sarcastic.

  • control

    Good article, HORRIBLE picture up top.

    John Stockton’s attitude towards practice, hard work and consistency should be the model for any up and coming basketball player. His dressing style…not so much.

  • http://www.kikaayacollegeschool.net smity far away

    “just good, hard, clean basketball, every possession of every game”

    always respected and admired Stockton’s game as much as the other greats of his era. There’s a lot to be said about the way he carried himself as a professional and you’ve done a great job here in this piece. I have never ever cared for Malone (despite his talent) but always appreciated what Stockton brought to the game (despite his rep as dirty…and by the way, the game was hard back then so a lot of people were-). anyway, nice job paying tribute.

  • Pig

    did you really said stock and malone and ring in same sentence..:D
    I just love Stock .. i patterned my game after him..always fight and never give up

  • Dave

    yep, Garanimals with the little tiger running on the front.

  • http://www.nukedasouth.net Chicagorilla

    That quote about the wind sprints is amazing. I’ve read/studied basketball for years and never knew that about Stockton. It’s not hard to believe, but it is an amazing feat. The mental toughness it takes to do something like that until you are 41 is just crazy. crazy.

  • http://twitter.com/anthonyeladjo abpin

    he also had some ridiculously short shorts throughout his career. but he never cared about that.

  • http://smack! JOB33

    i wear boxers less revealing then those shorts

  • SWAT

    I HATE EVERYTHING ABOUT THE JAZZ, JERRY SLOAN, MALONE AND ESPECIALLY STOCKTON. lol…stil bitter aftr they knockd my rockets out of the playoffs with stockton hitting the clutch 3 so many years ago. but dude was a beast and and a helluva ball player.

  • TPK

    Stockton is arguably one of the best PG ever! I wish there was an NBA alumni league that had the greats still playing….Something NBA TV should look into….thoughts?

  • sh!tfaced

    i think even WNBA players don’t wear shorts that short.

    really always thought that karl malone was the sidekick, not stockton…

  • DarthSickness

    Malone woulda just been a footnote were it not for Stock. Plus, no one could pop a three off a dead run like Stockton. If not the best PG ever, he’s on a very, very short list.

  • sweetv0mit

    the kind of basketball player Stockton was is almost extinct. its just sad seeing the kind of basketball they played is almost gone. as a 25 yr old i saw a little bit of it when i was growing up. its the right way to play

  • Sanssasin

    good article.

    malone wouldn’t have had the career he had without stock.

    i am still pissed at the kid i traded stockton’s rookie card to. i had stock’s rookie card and he had a spud webb rookie. spud had just won the dunk contest and so i was on the spud webb high. i made the trade. dumbest move i have ever made. about 2 years later when all the spud hype settled down i realized i got hustled.

    stockton was an amazing athlete, but was not savvy with the public. i remember waiting outside the salt palace after games to meet the players. i sat and waited forever for stock. when i finally met him he was very short with his words and quick to get out of there. i remember getting pissed that he didn’t even seem to care.

  • Sanssasin

    … and yes that was very classy of sac-town to give stockton a standing o when he got subbed out for the last time of his career in the ’03 playoffs. you could see he was getting choked up. that was a moment i will never forget.

  • Dave

    I’m sure there are lots of arenas where he would’ve been cheered, but something about the way the entire crowd rose in Sac-town and knew the significance of the event showed some true class gained my respect. Now if they could just find gold again in the American river Sac-town would be on top again.

  • dagwaller

    Great read, Dave! I remember some respect being paid to Stockton on Dime sometime in the past year, I wonder if that could get re-posted somewhere.

  • Dave

    when Stock played I always had the feeling that they had a chance to win if they were down. He took games over in the 4th quarters and other than the series or two with Portland when he was hurt it never felt like they couldn’t win. He hit some unreal late game shots under pressure and would bet someone could make a pretty strong highlight reel of those shots alone. Barkley’s said Stockton was one of the 5 best players he ever faced, pretty high praise if you think about who Barkley played against.

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Dave as much as I don’t like the Jazz lol …..excellent article.

  • wanabballer

    i love Le Tigre… my mom bought me shirts like that… don’t hate…

  • jack

    john stockton played the pg position (and even the game itself) the way it was meant to be… certainly deserves the HOF recognition

  • CTP

    Excellent article. I will never forget Stockton’s 3 to send the Jazz to the finals the first time. Bums me out so bad that he never won a ring. He deserved one a lot more than a lot of the dudes in the league now who have them. Fitting that only MJ could stop him, when The Jazz were in their prime.

    Another fact that should have been mentioned in the article was that he ONLY MISSED 22 GAMES IN 19 SEASONS! 18 of them in one season!!! That’s dedication and drive.

    Best pure point guard of all time.