Bits from John Stockton’s “Assisted” Media Blitz, Part 2
I don’t know if ESPN Headlines invited John Stockton on to solely talk about Russell Westbrook, but all the questions were about Westbrook and the Thunder. During most of the interview, it was Stock talking over Westbrook highlights and the banner on the screen was about Westbrook too.
On how hard it is for athletes to come back after injuries and play at an elite level
It’s different. Your knee is never the same. I think that’s a given. That’s one thing Coach [Jerry] Sloan told me when I had to go in for surgery for my knees, is that the knee will never be the same. You will have to make adaptations and adjustments.
And so, I was prepared for that. I worked very hard with trainers and staff, and I know Russell’s gonna have to as well…He’ll make a nice recovery. I think one of the things you’re worried about, “Do I, have I come back too soon? Have I waited long enough for the surgery to heal?” And that’s a tough question to answer.
How important is it to have that “backbone” of Kevin Durant (or Karl Malone) when you come back?
Well, I think they’re a little bit different. I don’t think they play off of each other as much as Karl and I did. For us, it was absolutely necessary. At least for me. I know that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the success that I did without Karl. But these guys seem to be guys that can take the ball in their own hands and take care of business.
With a 100-percent healthy Westbrook, how far do you see the Thunder going?
There’s so many good teams in the West. Actually, there’s so many good teams in the East too. You just never know on a given night, anybody can beat anybody. They’re certainly capable of winning the whole thing. They’re also certainly capable of missing the playoffs. So you know, I’m not gonna make a guess.
Derrick Rose had a tough game in his return with 5 turnovers to 4 assists. What have you seen from Rose so far?
He’s just one of the most explosive athletes I think I’ve ever seen. I mean, he is, seems calm, seems calm, and then all of a sudden like a rocket he’s on the basket. And so powerful, and his ability to score is really, he really shows his abilities every night. I look at, it’s one game. And obviously it’s against the Heat, a great defensive team. But it’s one game even if it wasn’t against them.
LeBron James is on the path to becoming the greatest player ever. Can you see him becoming greater than Michael Jordan?
I think they’re different. I know I’m gonna straddle the fence here, but I don’t know that they’re the only two in the conversation, first of all. I played with Michael; I played against Michael. Phenomenal player. He’d certainly be one of the top guys I ever played against.
I never had a chance to play against LeBron, nor did I have a chance to play against Wilt Chamberlain and so on. So, there’s a lot of guys that fit into that category, in my opinion. LeBron could certainly write record books from here on forward. He’s a phenomenal athlete and a phenomenal player.
Who is today’s John Stockton? Who reminds you of yourself?
Boy, I don’t know. The, there’s so much attention and there’s so much coverage in the NBA nowadays [that] there’s very few dark horses. And that’s kinda how I pictured myself, a little bit. Kinda behind the scenes a little bit, and try to be an effective player and help my team, and I’m sure there’s a lot of guys that do that. But I think we hear about a lot of them.
Tell us about Phil Ford’s pet bobcat and your 2-year-old Lindsay.
Phil Johnson’s. Yeah, our assistant coach Phil Johnson and his wife, Ann, had rescued a bobcat that had its foot caught in a trap, and they were nursing it back to health. They had it right at their house, and he knew how, Coach knew about my love for animals and stuff. So I went up there first and saw it.
And my daughter Lindsay was sitting right next to me on the couch and the cat never took its eyes off her. She had a red, like a Little Red Riding Hood coat on. So I stared at the cat. It just kept staring at her. So I put my arm out, and I’m protecting her and shield her, and in the blink of an eye that cat was on my shoulder right over the top of her head. And it gave me real insight to the athleticism of the wildlife in the world.
That’s one of the stories where you can tell you weren’t a Laker.
Hopefully, that’s not the only story you can tell.
Your eyes deceive you not. This here John Stockton, raising the roof.