John Houston Stockton (born March 26, 1962) is a retired American professional basketball player (NBA) who spent his entire career (1984–2003) as a point guard for the Utah Jazz of the NBA. Stockton is regarded as one of the best point guards of all time, holding the NBA records for most career assists and steals by considerable margins.
Stockton appeared in 10 All-Star games, and was named co-MVP of the game in 1993 with Jazz teammate Karl Malone, which was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. He played with the 1992 and 1996 US Olympic basketball teams, known as Dream Team I and II, the first Olympic squads to feature NBA players, keeping the game ball from both Gold Medal games. He was selected to the All-NBA First Team twice, the All-NBA Second Team six times, the All-NBA Third Team three times, and the NBA All-Defensive Second Team five times. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996. Stockton's career highlight came in Game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals, in which he hit the winning 3-point shot over the Houston Rockets' Charles Barkley to send the Jazz to the first of its two consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
For many years, he and Malone were the Jazz's 1-2 punch. The two played a record 1,412 regular-season games together as teammates. Many of Stockton's assists resulted from passes to Malone.
Stockton earned the "old school" tag for his physical play (surveys of athletes and fans alike often judged him among the toughest players in the NBA, usually just behind teammate Karl Malone); his uniform "short shorts" (he was the most recent notable NBA player to wear them, preferring the style long after the rest of the league had adopted today's baggy look); his simple dress off the court, which contrasted with many of his NBA contemporaries; and his reserved demeanor.
On May 2, 2003, Stockton announced his retirement with a released statement instead of the customary news conference. The Jazz later held a retirement ceremony for him, in which Salt Lake City renamed the street in front of the Energy Solutions Arena, where the Jazz play, John Stockton Drive. His number-12 jersey was retired by the Jazz during a game on November 22, 2004. A statue of Stockton can be seen in front of the Energy Solutions Arena; an accompanying statue of Karl Malone was placed nearby on March 23, 2006. The Malone and Stockton statues stand on a bronze plaque commemorating their achievements together.
Along with Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor, Reggie Miller, Pete Maravich, and his teammate Karl Malone, John Stockton is considered to be one of the best players never to have won a championship.
Stockton and his wife, the former Nada Stepovich (daughter of Matilda and Michael Anthony Stepovich, the penultimate territorial governor of Alaska), have two daughters, Lindsay and Laura, and four sons, Houston, Michael, David and Samuel. Stockton and his family are devout Roman Catholics.
He and Karl Malone are regarded as the quintessential pick and roll duo. Apart from his passing skill, Stockton was also known for being a capable scorer (13.1 points per game career average, with a high .515 shooting percentage) with a reliable three-point shot (.384 lifetime average). He is 30th on the all-time NBA scoring list with 19,711 career points Despite the fact that he never pulled down more than 9 rebounds (or recorded more than 9 steals) during a regular season game, he recorded one career triple double, in a playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks on April 28, 2001. He scored 12 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and had 10 assists.
On defense, Stockton holds the NBA record for career steals with 3,265, nearly 30 percent more than second placed Michael Jordan, who had 2,514 Similar to his career-long partner Malone, Stockton was considered a "dirty" defender by some, but he was certainly effective, earning five NBA All-Defensive Second Team nominations.
Stockton was known for his unassuming, no-nonsense approach to the game, hard-nosed defense, and fanatical work-ethic in preparation, which resulted in his extreme durability. He played 1,504 of 1,526 possible games in his 19-season career. In his first 13 seasons, he missed only four games until he missed the first 18 games of the 1997-98 season due to an injured MCL in his left knee sustained in the preseason. That was the only major injury in his career and he never missed another game after returning. In his last season at age 41, he started in all 82 games, and finished with more-than-respectable averages of 10.8 ppg and 7.7 apg.
Stockton avoided endorsements, and stayed loyal to Utah despite being offered significantly more money by other teams. In 1996 he agreed to a deal that made salary-cap space available so the team could improve, but insisted on guaranteed Delta Center ice time for his son's hockey team.
On May 11, 2006, ESPN.com named Stockton the 4th best point guard of all time.