Stockton-to-Malone Leftovers Odds and Ends: “My husband won’t stop crying!”
Since we’re now smack dab in the middle of the offseason, I’ll be throwing up some S2M leftovers I didn’t get a chance to include during Stockton-to-Malone Week. Here’s more.
Loved this story. We’ve all been there.
Shortly after the Jazz’s John Stockton announced his retirement from the NBA on Friday, the phone rang at his father’s tavern not far from where Stockton grew up and played college basketball.
It was a woman from South Dakota.
She wanted Stockton’s phone number.
When Jack Stockton told her he could not give it out, the woman pleaded with him to speak with her husband, then. “The guy was crying for five minutes on the phone with Jack,” said Kevin MacDonald, a bartender at Jack & Dan’s Tavern. “Saying, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ The guy said John was the reason he watched NBA basketball.”
“Jack was like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you, sir.'” MacDonald said. (“Stockton’s Hometown, Spokane, Taking His Retirement in Stride,” sltrib, May 2003)
After Stockton and Malone’s last game in Sacramento
–Mike Bibby waited outside the visitors’ locker room so he could say goodbye to his counterpart with a bearhug. (nytimes)
— Kings forward Chris Webber tracked down both game balls, one for each half, as is the norm, and had them signed by all members of his club. He then presented them to Stockton and Malone.
“(We did it) because of what those guys have done for the league, done for players like me,” Webber said. “It really means a lot to me to play against them. I really feel like today is more looking back. Man, this is a dream come true. You actually lived your dream (playing against all-time greats), and it makes everything that much better.” (“Round 1 Notebook: Malone touched by fans’ standing ovation,” sacbee.com, 5/2/2003)
Reaction from around the league
—Larry Brown: “I wish we could have done something appropriate for him in Philly…I can’t imagine a guy his size having a greater impact on our game. What did he miss, 19 games in 17 years? That’s remarkable. I hope he doesn’t leave our game.” (“Stockton exits, but what about Malone and Sloan,” Knight Ridder Newspapers, 5/3/2003)
“I told my wife I got really sad when I saw him leave,” Brown said. “I can’t imagine a guy his size having more impact on our game than he did. (“Jazz star receives plenty of praise,” Standard-Examiner, 6/7/2003)
—Eric Musselman (Golden State’s head coach) commented that Stockton was a senior at Gonzaga when he was a freshman at San Diego. “I think he understood our offense better than half of the guys on our team. His anticipation defensively, was mind boggling. I think any young player trying to play the point guard position, should realize he is the guy to watch.” (desnews)
–Hornets’ assistant coach Brian Hill: “He should leave the building and walk right into the Hall of Fame.”
—Don Nelson: “It’s about time. He’s been killing us for years…John is one of those guys who keeps his mouth shut and plays. One of the all-time great guys and great players.”
—Derek Harper: “People say the league is going to miss Michael Jordan. But the league is going to miss John Stockton just as much. If there’s one guy who knew what it meant to be a point guard, it was John. He knew how to play the position and he didn’t do it with speed and quickness. He did it with his mind. He gave guys 6-1 and 6-2 hope that they could play in the league.” (“Stockton hangs it up,” sltrib, May 2003)
—Danny Ainge: “I know everybody always talks about Michael Jordan, but there is nobody that ever competed better than John Stockton.” (desnews)