A Book Review: John Stockton's "Assisted"

Assisted by John Stockton

"From the very first, I realized that what you see is what you get with John. He lined up without excuses. Stocks never wavered one iota from his beliefs. He never shared them publicly so people thought he didn’t have them. He did, and he stayed true to them". - Karl Malone on John Stockton

John Stockton, with the help of lifelong friend Kerry Pickett, wrote an autobiography entitled Assisted. Assisted was published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. The book is being released today, October 29, 2013. Fans can buy Stockton’s book at such places like Amazon.com (Kindle option); Barnes and Noble (Nook!), The NBA Store in New York City (and later NBA.com); and Deseret Book .

John Houston Stockton was born in Spokane Washington in 1962 to Jack and Clementine Frei Stockton. Stockton was born and raised in Spokane, he also attended the university down the road, Gonzaga University. The first time Stockton moved from his parents home was when he was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1984. Stockton spent his entire incredible 19 season NBA career with the franchise that drafted him, the Utah Jazz. The loyalty, preparedness, and professionalism which characterized his time in the NBA also characterize his life.

In Assisted Stockton shares why he wrote his autobiography with one question "How did this wonderful life come to find me?" Stockton who has been blessed throughout his life felt the need to share his story with his family, friends and fans through his book. In his book Stockton shares his family history, stories from his childhood, his time as a Gonzaga Bulldog, life in the NBA, playing in the Olympics and his decision to retire from the NBA. Stockton also shares life lessons that he has learned, and his personal beliefs regarding religion and abortion.

Readers will enjoy Stockton’s quick wit, humorous anecdotes and his highly personal writing style. Stockton fans who have longed for him to open up for over twenty years will be highly satisfied reading his autobiography.

Readers will feel like they grew up alongside Stockton in Spokane, was his teammate on the Utah Jazz and overall feel like Stockton is their best friend while reading his book Assisted.

In Assisted there are lessons that are represented throughout Stockton’s life. Some of these are the importance of family, self confidence, having a sense of humor and being prepared.

Stockton throughout his life has valued family relationships. Growing up Stockton was close to his family, spending time helping his mother Clementine with housework, going to his dad’s tavern everyday after school, playing pickup games with brother Steve in the driveway and playing HORSE with his entire family including his parents, brother and two sisters were all activities that united his family. Stockton teaches that parents spending time with their children enriches lives and promotes communication.

Family and marriage were also important to Stockton as a husband and father. Stockton shares stories of his courtship with his wife, Nada including how he postponed the prospel two times, due to getting pulled over and a Jazz loss. Stockton finally proposed to Nada when she was sick and they were home in sweats watching TV.

As parents Stockton and Nada felt it important for their children to have as normal of a life as they could despite their father being an NBA athlete. Stockton included in his second to last contract with the Jazz the addendum of playing sports and participating in activities with his children, Larry left it in and it was submitted and then approved by the NBA exactly how he wrote it.

Stockton believes that knowing our place with family gives us a sense of our own identity. Identity and self confidence is important to Stockton. Stockton as a man and a player knew he was and stood by his morals and ideals.

Not loss in his ideals was Stockton’s sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself. Stockton openly shares life stories that are embarrassing. Stockton shares the time when he was six and wet his pants during a baseball game (thank goodness they were jeans back then and not white uniforms). Embarrassing things happened to Stockton throughout his life (like the do us all), Stockton opens up about such things. When Stockton was in college and living off of a $12 per diem, Stockton running with his meal from KFC tripped and dropped it spilling it all over the sidewalk, his teammates offered to chip in to buy him a new meal, Stockton so mad at himself refused their offer. Stockton shares more stories with self deprecating humor throughout Assisted.

Being prepared like his sense of humor is another quality that characterizes John Stockton. In Assisted Stockton tells how when he was drafted by the Utah Jazz his college coach, Fitz advised him to ask the Jazz for tapes. The Jazz were impressed by Stockton apparently no one had asked for game tape upon being drafted like he did.

Stockton took every opportunity to prepared whether in basketball or in life. In Stockton’s second year in the NBA he started the first 38 games of the season. The team then went on a nine of 10 game losing streak, Coach Frank Layden during the losing streak sent Stockton back to the bench. Not happy about the situation Stockton decided to learn from it instead of pout. Stockton was always engaged in the game instead of looking around the arena for family, friends and stars. Stockton said Layden only had to say his name once and he was up ready to enter the game, he didn’t have to tuck in this shirt, he didn't have to be told twice, he was ready when called upon.

Being prepared and learning from situations is a common theme in Assisted. From a soup label controversy in the second grade to driving an unlicensed car his entire rookie year Stockton was always able to learn from situations and teach others from his experiences.

Stockton opens up what he was able to learn from relationships he had with people on the Utah Jazz. Scott Layden was the first person associated with the Jazz that Stockton met. Scott picked Stockton up from the airport and before taking him to a team banquet took him on a drive up Big Cottonwood canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah. Stockton remembers what they talked about that day and often repeated that drive with family and friends that came to Salt Lake to visit. At that banquet Stockton met teammates Mark Eaton and Thurl Bailey who became lifetime friends.

Stockton tells about his relationships with Frank Layden, Larry Miller, Jerry Sloan, Karl Malone, Jeff Hornacek and Adam Keefe among other Jazz players and personnel.

A sweet story that Stockton shares is when Karl Malone was drafted. Stockton says how he was on a lucky streak, it was the same year that he married Nada. Shortly after Karl Malone came to Utah. Stockton and Malone went to the Hogle Zoo where they walked all day and talked without being noticed. Stockton says their relationship took off from where they left off when they first met at the 1984 Olympic Trials.

Reading about the relationships that Stockton had with longtime Jazz players, coaches and owner is a special treat for Jazz fans. Stockton tells stories about how after games he would always go down to the hotel bar, he would always find Sloan and assistant coach Phil Johnson there. Throughout the years they built strong friendships by the aftergame bar discussions. They would discuss the game, how they could improve as players and as coaches. Soon players like Jeff Hornacek and Adam Keefe joined in the conversations. It was unique in the NBA that players and coaches formed such friendships and were able to open up about the games and about life.

The culture in the NBA took a turn in the early 2000’s and it had its impact on the Utah Jazz. Stockton talks about the cultural changes and how it influenced his decision to retire. Fans will recall that Stockton’s retirement announcement was abrupt and brief at the 2003 locker clean out. Stockton shares what lead up to his announcement, how he told Larry, Nada, Jerry, Karl and his kids about his retirement and how he felt after such a life changing event.

John Stockton’s book Assisted is an inspiring book. Fans will learn everything they have ever wanted to know about Stockton and more however, they will also learn life lessons. John Stockton is a highly successful man who marches to the beat of a different drummer, Assisted allows one to see how Stockton thinks and what made him a success. Reading John Stockton’s book Assisted makes others want to be a better person.

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