When John Stockton seriously considered playing in Ireland

When John Stockton seriously considered playing in Ireland

John Stockton remains the best point guard in the history of the NBA. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals, and his record is practically unbeatable. Before all the records and accolades, the Gonzaga University alumnus planned to play in Europe should his dreams of playing in the NBA fail to push through. The country Stockton had in mind is surprising, to say the least.

Stockton’s basketball camp in Dungannon

In 1988, Stockton came to Dungannon, Ireland, with his wife and kids. He has some roots there connected to his father, Jack Stockton. With the invitation of then P.E. teacher Frankie O’Loane, the Utah Jazz guard conducted a basketball camp. O’Loane would later become a legend himself and handle Dungannon’s super-league team. 

A teacher from St. Patrick Academy, Fintan Colgan, shared what the legendary guard was like. For him, it was all business for Stockton. 

“It was a surprise for the kids, when he walked in there was a real presence about him and he didn’t talk down to them but he was very much speaking about dedicating yourself to the sport, that you couldn’t improve without practice.”

Fintan Colgan, BBC.com

For the all-time assists leader in the NBA, it all boils down to his teammates, who he considered as family. 

“When it’s brought up it is kind of neat to hold the record, but I get the credit for the efforts of a great deal of team mates who helped me with that, but it’s nice to hold it nonetheless.”

John Stockton, BBC.com
The NBA without Stockton would have been unimaginable

Unknown to fans, Stockton had a plan B should he not get drafted in the NBA. At that time, playing in Europe was another route for undrafted players. The 19-year-veteran admitted he was not sure if he would get picked. 

“I was fully planning on going to Europe. As early as a month before the NBA draft I wasn’t anticipating being picked and all of a sudden I’m picked up by Utah and the rest for me is history. But if that hadn’t have worked out, I was fully planning on going overseas to play basketball.”

John Stockton, BBC.com

As he remembered his stint in Dungannon, the premier point guard claimed playing in Ireland was not an outlandish idea, given his ties with the country. Without Stockton, the Utah Jazz would have been just another mediocre team in the league., and people in Ireland would’ve seen one heck of a player live.

One player would have benefitted from Stockton’s absence: Jason Kidd. The Dallas Mavericks head coach ranks second in all-time steals and assists record, trailing the Utah Jazz legend.