March 26 should probably be a holiday in Utah, where Jazz legend John Stockton played the entirety of his remarkably productive career.
Yes, it’s Stockton’s birthday. One of the greatest point guards in basketball history is 57. And 19 of his years on this planet, exactly one third, were spent on a Jazz roster.
By the time he retired from the NBA, Stockton had amassed career numbers that are, in many categories, staggering.
Here are his all-time ranks in a few:
- Total assists: 1st, and nearly 4,000 assists more than second-place Jason Kidd (and no, Chris Paul, that record is not the result of home cooking from Utah scorekeepers)
- Assist Percentage: 1st
- Total steals: 1st, and nearly 600 steals more than second-place Jason Kidd
- Assists per game: 2nd
- Total games played: 4th
- Win Shares: 6th
- Steal Percentage: 8th
- Steals per game: 9th
- Total minutes played: 10th
- All-NBA selections: 12th
- True Shooting Percentage: 15th
- Win Shares per 48 Minutes 16th
- Offensive Box Plus-Minus: 17th
- Wins Over Replacement Player: 20th
- All-Defense selections: 29th
- Game Score per game: 34th
- Effective Field Goal Percentage: 36th
- Total free throws made: 45th
- Total points: 49th
- Box Plus-Minus: 51st
- Total field goals made: 71st
Stockton’s longevity was unreal, as evidenced by all those counting stats, but his rate numbers were uniquely impressive as well.
Basketball Reference defines Box Plus-Minus as “a box score estimate of the points per 100 possessions that a player contributed above a league-average player, translated to an average team.” Stockton’s borderline top 50, according to that catch-all.
“Game Score was created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game.” Stockton’s top 40 on a per-game level there.
And finally, Win Shares are defined as, “an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player.” Stockton’s top 20 in Win Shares per minute.
If we say Stockton’s somewhere in the middle of those three numbers, that’s a top 30-ish player all time. And again, those are just the rate numbers. Very few players produced at his level for as long as he did, thus his high ranks in Win Shares and Wins Over Replacement Player (the cumulative variant of Box Plus-Minus).
Of course, those numbers are derived from the more basic ones we know, like points, assists, rebounds and steals. And here’s how Stockton’s career looks with those:
- 13.1 PTS, 10.5 AST, 2.7 REB and 2.2 STL per game, .608 TS%
- 15.7 PTS, 12.6 AST, 3.2 REB and 2.6 STL per 75 team possessions, .608 TS%
Those numbers are absurd. And they’re not just restricted to the regular season. Stockton’s also 19th in career playoff Wins Over Replacement Player and 18th in career playoff Win Shares.
And when you combine what he did in both the regular and postseason, you get even more eye-popping information.
Over the course of his career, Stockton had 963 total games with at least 10 assists. Magic Johnson is second there with 728. Isiah Thomas and Oscar Robertson are sixth and seventh on that list, and their combined total is 956.
He had 38 games with 20 assists. Magic is again second with 32. The combined total of 20-assist games from Rajon Rondo (third), Steve Nash (fourth), Isiah Thomas (tied for fourth) and Oscar Robertson (sixth) is 37.
Stockton’s 801 career double-doubles ranks 10th all time. Here are the guys ahead of him: Wilt Chamberlain, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Bill Russell, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Charles Barkley. All rebounders.
And even after all that, we’re just sort of scratching the surface here. We could dig into crazy numbers from Stockton for hundreds more words. Again, his statistical resume as almost unassailable.
What really makes Stockton special to Jazz fans is his loyalty to the franchise and the individual memories he gave them along the way.
He spent nearly two decades on the roster. He played every single game in 17 of those 19 seasons. He gave fans “The Shot” that sent Utah to the Finals in 1997. He broke the all-time assists record in front of the Jazz’ home crowd. He ran countless pick-and-rolls to perfection with Karl Malone.
And he did all of it with a humility and quiet competitiveness that’s not typical of superstar professional athletes.
Stockton may be 57 years old today, but his contributions to the game of basketball are timeless.