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A silly little quirk about human nature is that, for the most part, we find it hard to appreciate what we have when we have it. During times of back pain (I guess not all of the readers here are in their upper 30s to mid 50s) you cherish the times without it. When your internet is working as fast as possible you expect it, but when it's out you curse all that bandwidth you wasted on adorable kitten and puppy videos on YouTube. In Utah Jazz land I think there's no greater example of this than John Stockton. Actually, I think this goes for the entire basketball audience of the entire world.
Stockton was ridiculously good. The eye ball test showed his grace and ability, while the advanced stats showed his surgical precision. His raw numbers showed how dominant he was, while his short shorts showed a lot of leg. And now, sadly more than a decade after his last game, the Utah Jazz are still looking for point guard help. John was a legend for the Jazz, yes; but he was for the entire sport as well.
Probably the most "John Stockton thing" (besides having almost as many NBA records as he has children) is his candid home video of walking around Barcelona during the 1992 Olympics. He was an original Dream Teamer, and for those who do not know the story, in traffic one day he got off their charter bus and walked around. No one knew who he was, and he loved it.
But opposing players, coaches, and film crews knew all about John Stockton -- and today so do the history books.
There's never enough time to go over every thing John did over his career, but here are a few highlights:
- Olympic Gold Medal (x2)
- Western Conference Champion (x2)
- All-NBA 1st team (x2), All-NBA 2nd team (x6), All-NBA 3rd team (x3)
- All-NBA Defensive 2nd team (x5)
- Western Conference All-Star (x10)
- All-Star Game MVP (x1)
- All-Time NBA Assists Leader (15,806)
- #2 All-Time NBA APG (10.5)
- #1 All-Time NBA AST% (50.2%)
- All-Time NBA Steals Leader (3,265)
- #8 All-Time NBA SPG (2.2)
- #9 All-Time NBA STL% (3.5%)
- #10 All-Time NBA TS% (.608)
- #25 All-Time NBA eFG% (.546)
- #45 All-Time NBA Career Points (19,711)
- #40 All-Time NBA Career Free Throws made (4,788)
- #49 All-Time NBA Career Free Throws attempted (5,796)
- #31 All-TIme NBA Career PER (21.8)
- #4 All-Time NBA Offensive Rating (120.5)
- #5 All-Time NBA Offensive Win Shares (142.8)
- #20 All-Time NBA Defensive Win Shares (64.9)
- #5 All-Time NBA Total Win Shares (207.7)
- #13 All-Time NBA Win Shares / 48 (.209)
- #13 All-Time Offensive Box +/- (4.4)
- #44 All-Time Box +/- (3.5)
- #18 All-Time NBA VORP (65.9)
- #3 All-Time NBA in Career Games played (1,504)
- #8 All-Time NBA in Career Minutes played (47,764)
- Basketball Hall of Fame inductee as a player
Stockton played until the age of 40, and he was in excellent condition and played in almost every single game he could (1504 / 1526 in the regular season, or 98.56%). Unlike a guy like Chris Paul he didn't miss games every month. And unlike a guy like Chris Paul he has actually made it past the 2nd round before -- having gone to the Western Conference Finals five times in seven seasons. Players like Steve Nash and Stephen Curry are much better shooters, granted; but Stockton did this thing called "playing defense" too. And while guys like Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Derrick Rose dunk with authority, John has actually made his teammates better instead of going for personal glory. Tony Parker has rings, while John Stockton does not. But at least John never flopped. Oscar Robertson had the better All-Around game, but didn't last quite as long. John has four seasons (#15-18) after Oscars last (#14) where he has a higher WS than what Oscar had at a younger age. Chauncey Billups is Mr. Bigshot, but in his last season he had -0.3 Win Shares -- two seasons after that one (Billups' 17th, John's 19th) Stockton finished the season with 3.1 Win Shares. Gary Payton may be the Glove, but one guy he couldn't keep his hands on was John Stockton. Mark Price has won three point contests, but seriously, Mark Price? Getouttahere.
There's only one player who can claim to push Stockton from his perch:
Bob Cousy Magic Johnson . But I don't even think that guy was real, and I grew up watching him play in the early 80s. How the heck does your rookie PG start at center in the NBA Finals, and finish with a 42 / 15 / 7 / 3 line in the close out game? Magic transcends positions, freeing up John Stockton to be the best point guard ever. A legend. And one without any peers.