When ex-players talk about the toughest guards ever, John Stockton’s name comes up. That’s because the short-shorts-wearing, caucasian guard of the Utah Jazz could actually be the toughest guard of them all. Ex-NBA player Earl Watson added another Stockton story that proves the iconic guard is a truly rugged son of a gun.
Watson came into the league in the 2001-02 NBA season. During this time, Stockton was on the tail end of his illustrious NBA career. One would assume that Watson — a young gun with fresh legs — ran circles around him. The opposite is true. In a duel with Stockton, Watson narrated how shifty the Jazz icon was.
“I’m like 21, just turning 22. [He got] real chest hair coming out of his jersey. He’s like a grown-ass man. So I’m picking him up full court. Stock didn’t have a lot to him but he hit them angles quick. Right boom, boom, boom,” Watson said.
This is something one could observe even just by comparing Stockton to today’s guards. He did not have flashy dribbling moves like Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving. It was all basic for the legendary guard. Not because he could not unpack wizardly dribbling maneuvers. It was because Stockton only needed the fundamentals to wreak havoc.
”Back the f**k up!”
Like any young player who wants to prove himself, Watson studied up on Stockton’s tendencies. When D-Day came, he was laced with counters especially against Stock’s penchant for running his offense inside the free-throw line. Little did Watson know that Stockton had a counter to his counter. And it’s called “back the f**k up.”
“Stock ran his offense from inside college three because if you touched him it was a foul. I remember getting inside college lane like ‘He is not about to walk me to the free throw line and run the play!’ So I stand him up, right? And when I stand up, we bounce off each other and the ball go right past my face. I duck. I’m thinking it’s a back door. No one’s behind me. He threw the ball in my face. I looked back at him. He said, ‘Back the f**k up,’” Watson said.
At this moment, Watson realized that John Stockton was a bully. It was a lesson Watson is probably grateful for. After all, while Watson had a decent college career, he the 39th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. This meant that he had to learn his lessons — and quickly.
Watson was never considered the top guard of the league. But he played for 13 seasons in the world’s best basketball league as a solid backup guard. This is something to be proud of. We could say that he learned one of life’s greatest lessons when Stockton told him to back the f**k up.