How does this guy even play? This is the first question that comes to mind when you ask someone to describe Stockton. He was 6'1" while weighing 180 pounds at most. He wasn't explosive; he didn't seem strong in any way, shape, or form. However, with all this being said, John Stockton will be remembered as the best pure point guard the league has ever seen.
If one remembers the Utah Jazz team from those days, you could tell they were real professionals on the court, run by one of the most badass coaches in Jerry Sloan. They were executing business incredibly efficiently every night they stepped out on the court. Small shorts, funky haircuts, no tattoos, perfect movements, and a text-book run offense where every player knew his role. Jerry Sloan had tremendous luck by having someone, who could implement his ideas on the court every single night and that person was John Stockton.
Utah Jazz former owner Larry Miller came into the team's locker room after one game and told Stockton" I saw something night I thought I would never see you do in a game. I saw you slacking in one play" Stockton was shocked and surprised by the statement so he responded..."I always give 100 percent in every game", "I thought he was going to hit me", said Miller.
Stockton was never amused by the popularity he received. He would regularly turn down video shootings if his kids were playing a soccer match. John had different priorities in life, while also never having an agent. For 19 years in the league, he was the one negotiating for every single contract he signed with the Jazz.
The same type of haircut, ultra-small shorts which by the way he still wore in his last season well in the 2000s. He rarely gave autographs, he never made it into the headlines, unless it was related to his accomplishment on the court. He was rarely targeted by reporters because he was able to put them to sleep with his short and monotonous sentences. When they asked him what was his favorite moment with the Dream Team in Barcelona, Stockton said: " One girl on the street asked me if I can take a picture of her and Charles Barkley. She thought I was a tourist.
Young readers should know: John Stockton was the ultimate point guard. Textbook playmaker with an excellent skill set to go along with the intellect. If you ever watched his games, you could immediately tell Stockton is 3 steps ahead of everybody. He had an incredible combination of skills ranging from his court awareness, precision, durability, ball handling and always being able to deliver a laser-accurate pass to his teammates.
People are surprised when 6'8", 250 pound LeBron is able to shoot 55 percent from the field. 34-year-old Stockton was averaging 55% from the field, while at the same time being physically inferior to ever starting guard in the league. John Stockton has 51,5% from the field for his entire career, after 19 years in the league. Kobe Bryant, never in a single season was had a 50% shooting season.
John was the master of pick 'n' roll game at the same time it got really popular in the league. Jazz coaching staff remember when John took all the VHS tapes available before the draft so he can be ready before the first game. He knew every single play on both ends of the floor. At that time John was destined to be a back-up point guard to than Utah's All-Star player Ricky Green.
When one of the best shooters in the league Jeff Malone, arrived to Utah, Stockton asked him to step aside after practice and for 20 minutes straight was trying to find out where Malone likes to get the ball, which are his favorite positions on the court. The end result of this conversation was "I never received a bad pass from John Stockton. I swear. He never threw the ball behind my back, to my legs, in front of me. Every pass was on point and the only thing I had to do was shoot the ball."
You could easily say he had a totally different on-court perspective and awareness.
If we're talking about physical capabilities, we could definitely say Stockton had incredible stamina and big hands with long fingers, which never stopped him from being a great shooter. During his preparation for the 1984 OI in Los Angeles, the coaching stuff measured Stockton's heart pulse at 41 and that was after a 2-hour conditional practice with Bobby Knight. They measured it three times after so they can make sure there wasn't a mistake on their end. "He never sweats", said his former teammate Karl Malone, "in the last minute of a playoff game he looks like he just came here during a lunch break after a nice stroll."
Stockton has spent 19 years in the NBA and he only missed 22 games out of 1526. He missed 18 out of those 22 games in one season after a knee injury which was his only serious career injury. Who remembers those games will know he was never afraid of contact and rough style of play (Charles Barkley even said nobody played dirtier than John Stockton in the game).
John Stockton's assists and steals record will probably stay there for quite a long time. Jason Kidd had a long career but when you look at his numbers in that segment he's not even close to Stockton. "I used to take John for granted sometimes because I knew I would get a perfect pass from him every game. He made me a better player. He was never given anything, he earned it by himself", said the man who will always be eternally linked with him, Karl Malone.
When he beat Magic Johnson's record, Stockton didn't want the game to be stopped so they everyone could congratulate him. John said the game should be normally continued like nothing ever happened.
Like many other players from his generation, he never won a championship. Phil Jackson always said Utah was the most difficult opponent the Bulls faced in the Finals.
Hall of Famer John Wooden, one of the best coaches of All-Time and the creator of modern basketball once said: "Out of all the players, I would only buy a ticket to watch John Stockton play"