The alltime NBA assists and steals leader was drafted 16th by the Jazz 30 years ago—several picks after fellow Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.
DAN PATRICK:Did you know how you stacked up against the other players in the draft?
JOHN STOCKTON: The one fortunate thing I had before the draft was the Olympic trials. I played against everybody who was in that draft in one week. I felt pretty comfortable.
DP:Was Jordan already talking trash?
JS: No, Michael was great. I didn't see him as the legend. I was kind of dialed into my own world at Gonzaga. People would ask me about him, and I would say, "Yeah, he's just a player."
DP:Who was the best player there?
JS: The toughest guy for me to guard in camp was Pearl Washington. He was a big, strong fellow.
DP:If you played today, would you wear the baggy shorts?
JS: I'd probably do what I did then—play in what they gave me. I didn't know until my 16th or 17th year that you could pick the inseam on your shorts.
DP:You avoided the press. Were you shy?
JS: My family wouldn't say I was shy. The questions you get—What do you think about So-and-so's jumper—divert you from what you're trying to think about when you're getting ready.
DP:Why do players say you were dirty?
JS: I sometimes sit at home and try to figure that out. Guys set screens, and their knees stick out and their elbows. You can stand up like a peacock and get your head taken off, or you can lower your body and go through aggressively. I think it's kind of weak when someone says that. I got plenty of stitches, and I didn't spend much time calling people dirty.
DP:How long did it take you to get over the Jordan jumper in the 1998 Finals?
JS: About three days. Certainly that one was crushing. But we thought we'd go back.
DP:Did Jordan push off on Bryon Russell?
JS: I joke with Michael and say, "Yeah, you pushed off." I don't think I would have called it.
DP:If Russell had pushed off on Jordan, would the refs have called that?
JS: That's tougher to answer. I don't know if I can or want to go there.
DP:How many dunks did you have in your 19-year career?
JS: One, but no one saw it.
DP:I didn't know you had one.
JS: It was against Cleveland in the old Salt Palace. I was petrified of missing the shot. It wasn't a tear-down-the-rim thing. Nobody even stood up on the bench. I was like, That was hardly worth it.
DP:You didn't posterize anyone?
JS: No, I can only do that on an eight-foot hoop.
David Robinson said he'd start a team with Tim Duncan over Michael Jordan: "Jordan was spectacular and exciting; Tim is workmanlike [and] every bit the assassin Michael was. Big guys are so much harder to find, and they anchor your team so much better." ... MLB Network's Kevin Millar told me that the possible role of smokeless tobacco in Tony Gwynn's death has greatly affected him. "When I get on the golf course, I'll throw one in, but Tuesday I didn't grab my can," he said. "I have four little kids; I want to be around." ... I asked 5'4" actor Kevin Hart, a three-time NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP, about his influences. "I'm a little bit of LeBron James," Hart said, "with Kevin Durant's shooting stroke, Dwight Howard's physical presence, Derrick Rose's herky-jerky ability and—last but not least—Kyle Korver's ability to come off a screen."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
JESSE D. GARRABRANT/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (STOCKTON)
NED DISHMAN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (ROBINSON)
BRYAN SMITH/ZUMAPRESS.COM (MILLAR)
PETER FOLEY/EPA (HART)