26 March 2012
From 1992 Nike Barcelona Olympics Dream Team commercial promo
He's 50 today. And the wiry frame that belies an underlying strength and toughness still looks like it could set a screen that would make Blake Griffin think twice about plowing into the paint past him.
John Stockton left it all out there every night, going so hard he often would blow out the sidewall of his shoe. "Sometimes even more than one pair a game," sculptor of the John Stockton and Karl Malone statues, Brian Challis told me, "That's something we wanted to convey when building the mold, all that energy. [Larry H. Miller] and I wanted people to see that about John."
When next you visit EnergySolutions Arena walk around and take a closer look at that planted right foot on the Stockton statue and you'll see that it appears as if all the energy pushed down into that pivot point is indeed about to burst even the metal seams of his shoe.
The photo to the right was the model for Challis for that particular part of the anatomical work, in addition to several others and Stockton himself, who was very patient about the measuring process of every inch of his body, cracking wise occasionally as Brian worked.
Stockton has an underrated wit, one that he let loose during his Hall of Fame induction speech a couple of years ago (that you can watch over at SaltCityHoops, along with a few other awe inspiring throwback vids of Stock). Nearly always unassuming, rarely noticed in public, one of the most Stockton things ever has to be this short story of a Stockton sighting at the statues from 2010.
"Call TMZ? Who's the man in the minivan?
True story here: While walking to my car after the Jazz-Nets snoozer Saturday night at about 11:35, a bunch of pre-teen girls and a small boy flew out of a silver minivan parked by EnergySolutions Arena. The group of gigglers raced over to the John Stockton statue, laughing, posing, goofing off and climbing all over the bronzed Hall-of-Famer as a woman with long, blond hair took pictures. While passing the impromptu photo shoot, I glanced inside of the minivan and almost started giggling with the girls. Sitting in the driver's seat of the vehicle with "Dealer" license plates? The statue's doppleganger a.k.a. the real John Stockton. And though I only saw the back of her head, I'm pretty sure the stylish blonde was Nada Stockton and not Britney Spears. The Jazz legend, by the way, did not get out and climb on his statue or on Karl Malone's. Go ahead. Try to top that star-sighting story."
-Jody Genessey, Deseret News
Stockton's shoe mold at the foundry, photo by Scott Frederick
John Stockton was always one of those guys you'd be proud to be able to say you'd chatted with, shook hands with. I waited over 20 years for my shot to do so, wasting none of it when I finally got it. It was at the Grand Re-Opening of Stockton Honda in Draper, Utah. Knowing Stockton was notoriously difficult to get an autograph out of I had no intention of missing out on this chance.
As my turn came to meet and greet the man, myth, and legend, I took my old "Heart & Soul" Malone and Stockton poster out of it's frame from under the glass for him to sign as he manned the proper Sharpie. Stock froze in mid-preparation for the signature as I shook his hand and proclaimed, "John Stockton! My second-favorite player ever!"
He looked me straight in the eye and belted out, "Second -favorite?!"
"Yeah," I says, "Don't tell Karl he's third..." soliciting a hearty belly-laugh from Stock.
As we stepped over to the photo shoot backdrop he had to know, "So, who's first?"
"Wilt, because he's the reason I discovered the game."
"Hard to argue that," John replied.
Stockton can still frequently be seen up Spokane way, doing a little molding of his own on the up-and-comers at NCAA basketball mainstay Gonzaga where son David attends and plays for the Bulldogs. I can just picture him in practice, still driving knees and elbows hard into the young studs, toughening them up for the next level they hope to reach.
Here's to you, semicentenary John Stockton. Happy Born Day. Never change.
John Stockton's record-tying 24 playoff assists in a game
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