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NBA 75 Series: #32 John Stockton

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

Coming in at #32 on my NBA 75 Greatest Players of All Time is arguably the best quintessential point guard in NBA History, a sensational defender, and the ultimate floor general to the highest degree who made his teammates better, that man is John Stockton. Stockton was born on March 26th, 1962, in Spokane, Washington to his mother Clementine, and father Jack.

Stockton would attend grade school at St. Aloysius and high school at Gonzaga Prep, where he graduated in 1980. He would break the city record for points scored in a single season, which is ironic for a guy who wasn’t primarily known for his scoring ability. Stockton was a small, quiet, shy 6-foot-1 guard who had offers from small schools such as Idaho, and Montana who were a part of the Big Sky Conference.

He would decide to stay home in Spokane to play his college basketball for the Gonzaga Bulldogs for then head coach Dan Fitzgerald. Stockton was a third generation member of his family to attend Gonzaga University where his grandfather, Houston Stockton was a renowned football player in the 1920s. During his senior year for the Bulldogs in 1984, Stockton averaged 20.9 points per game while shooting 57% from the field.

Gonzaga would go on to record a 17-11 record that season, which was their best in 17 years. While doing so, Stockton would go on to have a remarkable season by helping lead the West Coast Athletic Conference in scoring, assists, and steals, getting it done on both ends of the court. As a Bulldog Stockton would go on to be named first team WCAC twice, and the WCAC Player of the Year, which made him the first player in program history to accomplish such a feat.

Stockton would be one of 74 players to be selected to the famous 1984 U.S. Olympic team that was coached by Bobby Knight, where he would meet his eventual longtime teammate, Karl Malone. He would impress in the trials and pre-draft workouts, helping him be selected 16th overall by the Utah Jazz in the famous 1984 NBA Draft that was also composed of NBA icons such as Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Charles Barkley.

Ultimately, like I mentioned in the beginning, Stockton is probably the best quintessential point guard in league history who had that flawless pick-and-roll game with Karl Malone, as the greatest P&R duo ever. He helped lead the Jazz to two NBA Finals appearances in 1997 & 1998, with the ‘97 one coming after a series winning buzzer over Barkley, to sink Olajuwon and the Rockets, which is an iconic moment in NBA lore.

He led the league in steals twice (1989, 1992), assists for nine straight seasons (1988-1996), is a 10-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP (1993), 10-time All-NBA selection, and five-time All-Defensive selection. He also is the all time steals and assists leader and it’s not even close! Stockton has 15,806 career assists, the next closest is Jason Kidd with 12,091..almost 4,000 more! He also is the all-time leader in steals with 3,265, the next closest being Kidd again with 2,684. That is mind-boggling.

The Jazz never missed the playoffs in his 19 seasons there and made the Conference Finals five times in a seven-year span. Stockton and Malone unfortunately never captured a title as one of the best duos ever, thanks to Jordan. Despite that, Stockton will forever be remembered as one of the best point guards and floor generals in league history, while also being amongst the most durable players ever.

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