Today, John Stockton receives the highest individual honor a basketball player can get: an induction in the Basketball Hall of Fame. As a Jazz fan growing up, I couldn’t be happier. For 19 years, Stockton gave our boring and bland town something to get excited about. He was a huge reason why the Jazz were a playoff team every year and why they made it to the finals twice. It is almost impossible to be from our neck of the woods and not give him Pope-type status.
To myself and Utah fans, he is the greatest point guard of all time. But even if I wasn’t biased and was a kid that grew up in Florida, I would still say Stockton is deserving of being labeled the best floor general in NBA history. While a lot of you I’m sure will disagree and argue that Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas and even Steve Nash are worthy of this subjective title, but I think that Stockton’s body of work puts him over those guys.
In nearly two decades of running the point for Utah, Stockton averaged a double-double with 13.1 ppg and 10.5 assists. Think how impressive those career averages are considering he played sparingly his first few seasons and was limited to around 30 minutes per game his last five or six seasons. Stockton was one of the most efficient players of all time with his 52 percent career field goal percentage, 38.4 percent three-point percentage and 82.6 percent free throw percentage.
On the offensive end, nobody was a better passer. Stockton is the all-time leader in assists with 15,806 – that’s over 5,000 more than Magic’s total of 10,141. In the 1989-’90 season, he averaged 14.5 assists, which was the highest single season total in league history. Stockton was a 10-time all-star, two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time All NBA first team and was voted one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players of all time in 1997.
As great of a player Magic was, he wasn’t a good defender like Stockton was. Stockton is the game’s all-time leader in steals and was voted on the All Defensive second team six times. Whether you thought he was dirty or not, he was aggressive on the defensive end and didn’t back down from anybody, even though he was just 6-1 and 175 pounds.
The one knock on Stockton was he never won a championship. Isiah won two and Magic won five, but that doesn’t mean they could do what Stockton did year after year. Stockton made the playoffs in all of his 19 seasons and reached the finals twice only to lose both times to the MJ’s Bulls – which arguably was the best team of all time.
Stockton’s longevity and consistency is something that no other point guard can match. He was not 6-9, didn’t have much athletic ability or the same caliber supporting casts as Magic and Isiah, but he found a way to get it done. Nobody could do and will ever do what John Stockton accomplished.
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