John Houston Stockton (born March 26, 1962 in Spokane, Washington).
John Stockton was drafted by the Utah Jazz at 1984 (no.16 overall) and played for them till the end of his basketball career. When I say he played I mean really played, this guy was, amongst other things, one of the iron-men of the league as he missed only 22 games throughout his career (played 1504 out of 1526). Imagine that in his last season (41 years old) he started at all of the 82 games that Jazz played that season.
Stockton remained loyal to the Jazz and spend his entire career there. Why not? Himself and his buddy Karl Malone created one of the best dynamic duos in the history of the NBA and led Utah to two NBA Finals and three more times to the Western Conference Finals throughout the 90s. It is a pity though that this great team never won a championship (you probably guessed right, they played against the Bulls).
He may never won a championship but he recorder some pretty impressive numbers and he was always considered one of the best players in the league, even though some of his critics believed that he wouldn’t be able to achieve all that if it wasn’t for Malone. Anyway, there are always some people that criticize and that’s all that they do.
I believe that Stockton’s individual ability was unique, he could make all of his teammates better. His teaming with Karl Malone benefited them both and probably Malone was the luckiest one. I cannot imagine any big guy in the game basketball that wouldn’t want to play alongside John Stockton. This short white guy that didn’t look like a basketball player and definitely an NBA superstar, is the all-time NBA leader in assists (15806) and steals (3265). He also holds the record for assists per game over a single season with 14.5 in 1989-90.
Stockton led the NBA in assists per game 9 consecutive times (1987-88 to 1995-96) throughout his career and 7 of them was during the 90s. They could have been ten but in 1996-97 season he came second. He also led the league in steals per game two times (1988-89, 1991-92) and was named an all-star 10 times, 9 of them in a row (1989-1997) and one time in 2000 (in 5 of them he has been voted as a starter by the fans). He has also been named co-MVP, alongside his teammate Karl Malone, in the 1993 NBA all-star game that held in Utah.
Additionally, he has been named in the All-NBA first team 2 times (1993-94 and 1994-95), 6 times in all-NBA second team (3 of them during the 90s) and 3 more times in the All-NBA third team (all 3 of them in the 90s). As a great defender, that he was, he has been named in the second all-defensive team 5 times (4 of them in the 90s).
Stockton made a lot of great performances throughout his career but I had to pick one, I would pick the last game (game 6) of the Western Conference Finals in 1997 against a great Houston Rockets team (Olajuwon, Barkley and Drexler). At that game Stockton played 38 minutes, scored 25 points and gave 13 assists. 9 out of his 25 points came at the end of the fourth quarter, in fact it was the last 9 points of the game that the whole Jazz team scored. So, at the end of that game the score was tied at 100-100 and John Stockton had his version of ‘the shot’ (although the original version came next year and in irony was against Stockton’s team) in the final seconds of the game, hit a three-pointer and Jazz qualified (4-2) for their first ever NBA Finals appearance. The rest of the story is the same for every team that faced the Bulls in an NBA Finals series at the 90s (lost 4-2 in 1997 and lost again 4-2 in 1998 even with home-court advantage this time).
The NBA, the fans and the coaches showed their respect, recognition and appreciation on Stockton’s abilities and achievements many times, as he has also been selected to play for the original ‘Dream Team’ in 1992 Olympic Games held in Barcelona and in ‘Dream Team III’ that played in 1996 Olympic Games held in Coca-Cola city (Atlanta). Furthermore, he has been named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history and has recently inducted to the Naismith Hall of Fame (2009).
For all the above reasons I believe that John Stockton was the best point guard that played during the 90s. He is the best play maker I have ever seen since 1989 that I follow the league. I believe that he is for sure one of the best that ever played the game and he deserved an NBA title, but that is another thing because there are a lot of great players that never won a title and this doesn’t make them less great but it certainly stigmatizes their careers.