John Stockton was the epitome of a true ironman in the NBA, playing in 99 percent of games in his career for the Utah Jazz, showcasing ultimate dedication and level of fitness only a few others in NBA history matched.
NBA has a problem with load management
Adam Silver announced the NBA would further look into teams resting players and described this problem as a big concern for the league. Players not competing in a full complement of games has been a trend in the NBA for a few years right now more than ever before, and NBA is trying to address it adequately.
Even though you were healthy, load management and resting during the season weren't even in John Stockton's vocabulary, and he has an extensive track record to prove it. Throughout his 19 seasons in the NBA, Stockton only missed 22 games in his entire career averaging 32 minutes per game. This remarkable feat is also one of the reasons why he is the all-time leader in assists and steals, and it's hard to imagine anyone catching up to him in that department anytime soon.
In an interview with Jason Whitlock, Stockton said getting into the NBA was extremely hard for him, and he was worried about his future in the league, so he took every game extremely seriously. On top of that, he felt honored to wear a jersey and represent something bigger than himself. That is why he is highly disappointed when athletes in all sports, not just the NBA, sit out games even though they are entirely able to perform.
Stockton wants athletes to understand that a lot of fans save money to watch them play or even drive for hours to come to the arena. The courtesy to show fans respect by playing and giving your best on the floor should be a priority for every NBA player, no matter how big a star he is in the league.
"I took every game as a privilege, as an honor. I have gone to other games, and other sports, and the guy I wanted to see because I heard great things about him was sitting out because it is a rest day, and I just don't get that. I know people that have driven a day just to go and see their favorite player play one single game, and what if that is the game you sit out. Then there are parts of just playing and being an honorable player. Part of the thing finishing a season and being hopefully a champion is that you had to climb that mountain. If you take a month off to rest and if you don't push your body to its limits and."
Every games was a privilege
It also meant a lot for Stockton to be there for his teammates. As an ultimate floor general, Stockton felt it was his duty to help his teammates in any way he could and put them in a position to shine. Being prepared and taking good care of his body was also a fundamental reason behind Stockton's longevity.
"There is a lot to it, but I wasn't missing games unless someone was dragging me out of there, so it was really important for me not to let my teammates down. Maybe that is the core of being the athlete; you just don't let your teammates down, which involves being on the court and also how you prepare yourself to be on the court and give your best every night."
They really don't make them like John Stockton anymore in the NBA, and that type of mindset is almost gone from the league. For Stockton, it was all about being honorable and having pride when competing against the best players in the world while giving out his best every time he stepped on the basketball hardwood. He also respected the fans and understood players don't exist without the fans, so sitting out games when healthy was never an option for him. Stockton's records speak of consistency and dedication to the craft to its fullest, which is something every athlete should aspire to in his career.