Pop quiz time…
Who is the NBA career leader in assists is with 15,806?
What about the career leader in steals with 3,625?
A) Magic Johnson
B) Bob Cousy
C) Niykee Heaton
D) John Stockton
The correct answer is…
John Stockton. Yup. John Stockton. The guy on The Dream Team that walked through Barcelona with his family and had to have his soon point him out on a shirt to get an AMERICAN to recognize him.
NBA Hall of Famer Gary “The Glove” Payton was quoted as saying John Stockton was harder to guard than Michael Jordan. I can’t say I agree with that statement…But I never guarded either of them and I am not currently an NBA Hall of Famer like Payton. With that said, Payton also didn’t include Michael Jordan in his top 3 players all time (that’s just strange) so I don’t know how much of his word we can really trust. But the fact that Gary Payton would even fathom saying something like that on national TV with a straight face should count for something.
John Stockton was 6’1” 170 pounds and was strictly finger rolls, floaters, and during his prime: backboard slaps on layups…Search YouTube for a John Stockton dunk and I promise you will never find it.
So of course nobody was as amazed as they should have been by what Stockton did in the NBA for nearly two decades.
Stockton was a pass first point guard, he could score when he needed to, and turned himself into a very efficient three-point shooter. On top of that, he played very good defense (all NBA second team defender five times). Stockton also shot over 80% from the free throw line for his career.
When you’re talking about the pick & roll (the play EVERYBODY who has ever touched a basketball knows)- you are talking about John Stockton and his buddy Karl Malone who ran it to perfection with the Utah Jazz.
We all love to watch all of these athletic point guards that are taking over the NBA right now- and rightfully so they’re nasty…But John Stockton put up his numbers in an era where the NBA allowed for more physical defense and there were far less players that could create good shots for themselves. On a lot of nights Stockton’s job was to get 15-20 assists all while making sure to make nearly every shot he too…And he did it.
Want some stats that will blow your mind?
Stockton shot over 48% from the field in every one of his 19 years in the NBA except his rookie year…Talk about efficient. In his statistical prime (from 1988-1997) Stockton averaged 15.7 points, 12.7 assists, & 2.5 steals per game. Stockton had 207 games with 16-20 assists (Rajon Rondo has 65 with 15+) compared to only 166 with fewer than 5 assists. His 15,806 are more than 3,000 more than the next highest man… To make Stockton’s numbers even more amazing- he played in at least 95% of his team’s games in 18 of his 19 seasons all while playing for only one franchise (Utah Jazz).
How can a point guard get any better than that? He was always on the court (no rest days, no bad injuries), he was an extremely efficient scorer, an amazing passer, and a great defender.
Surely, moments like this would be much more memorable if Stockton won a championship…But he lost two heartbreakers to #23 on the Chicago Bulls, that’s got to count for at least ½ a ring, right?
There are winners and there are people who just so happen to be on winning teams…Unfortunately, John Stockton was a winner who didn’t win the big one. With that said he is a two times Olympic gold medalist (1992 in Barcelona with The Dream Team, and 1996 in Atlanta with another star-studded group of NBA players),
I’ve seen plenty of games that John Stockton played in- but his game never left me in awe. He wore really tight shorts, played way too fundamentally sound to actually be good, and played in the huge market of Utah… How could I be left in awe? But the more I’ve seen of him and the more I looked at the numbers and his consistently quiet domination of games for 19 seasons, the more I realized how tremendous John Stockton was.
So the next time you’re discussing the best point guards to ever play the game, don’t forget to include Point God John Stockton in the discussion…