When I think about the longevity and consistency in the NB, John Stockton‘s name is one that comes into mind. Stockton played 19 seasons in the NBA while at the same time missing only 22 games during that period, which is an astonishing feat when you think about it. Rarely few players in NBA history can say they’ve been so durable and consistent for a significant majority of their career, and Stockton did just that.
In his 1504 regular-season games, Stockton accumulated many assists and steals that it’s almost impossible for anyone to break these records. It’s worth mentioning that he made the playoffs every year since he entered the league in 1984 until he officially retired in 2003, playing for the same Utah Jazz team that drafted him in the first place.
Regarding his longevity and pure toughness, there is a specific story that displays this side of Stockton, something not many fans know about that happened playing for the original ‘Dream Team‘ in the summer of 1992.
In a game against Canada, Stockton got injured, and even though everyone thought it was a minor injury at that moment, it turned out to be a broken foot.
Stockton suffered from what the doctors call undisplaced fracture of the right fibula. The initial projection was that he would be re-evaluated in 2 weeks after deciding whether he can start with very light practice. Dr. David Fischer, his doctor, said the pain is the worst part of this type of injury.
Although the injury can be painful, Stockton is in no danger of further injury. This kind of injury can be painful for some time. It could take weeks for the pain to disappear, but it is up to John on whether or not he can participate. Playing does not further the injury. It is just up to the player on how much pain he can play with.”John Stockton, via Desert News
Stockton didn’t want to miss any games for the “Dream Team” in Barcelona, so he made sure to make a tremendous comeback.
“My plans are now to play. I heal quickly, and I stay in good shape, and I will stay in good shape. With the medical team in Utah and my conditioning, I plan to be in Barcelona.”John Stockton, via Desert News
They noticed a collision with none other than Michael Jordan that injured Stockton after they looked at the tapes. Stockton initially thought the injury wasn’t serious, but soon, he found out it could jeopardize his trip to Barcelona.
“I do remember Jordan came out of nowhere, which he does a lot, very fast, and he caught me with his knee. It hurt, but I just thought it was one of those slight muscle injuries that you get all the time and that I could work it out by running. When I came back down the floor, I realized that it wasn’t going to work itself out.”John Stockton, via Desert News
Exactly a month after his injury, Stockton returned in an official game against Spain in which he scored 4 points. The game was won by US 122-81, and Stockton punched in minutes of playing time only 33 days after his injury vs. Canada. You can check the boxscore from this game here.
Stockton was resilient and didn’t want to use any excuses; he made sure to be there for his team even though it was the greatest basketball squad ever composed. Professionalism, toughness, and of course, a bit of luck enabled Stockton to recover and play only 33 days after a broken foot.