SB Nation blog SLC Dunk looks back on how a skinny guard from Gonzaga came to define a franchise. Definitely worth a read. From SLC Dunk:
Stockton impressed from the get-go. He was a hit in training camp and in the pre-season. He played in all 82 games his first season, starting 5 of those when Green couldn't go. He would continue the next three seasons as the backup PG. But in 1988, Rickey Green was selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the expansion draft and the reins to the team were turned over to Stockton.
Immediately he jumped to be among the elite players in the league. In his first season as a starter, Stockton led the league in assists with 1,128. That would start a run of five straight seasons of 1,100+ assists. The 1,100 assist mark has only been reached by one other player in NBA history, Isiah Thomas, and that was just one time. Those 5 years produced 5,670 assists. That alone would have put him at #33 on the all-time list. He would lead the league in assists for 9 straight years, a league record.
If players were given championships because they deserved it, Stockton and the Jazz would have gone on to win back-to-back titles. We won't get into the controversy from those finals appearances against the Bulls and all the shoulda/coulda talk. Stockton wouldn't make any excuses either.
For the last 6 years of his career he started playing about 5-6 minutes less per game to keep his legs fresh. His number dropped a bit, but his Per 36 and other stats showed that he didn't really have a drop-off. Meaning at age 40, he was still putting up 10 assists per game Per 36, the same as when he entered the league.
Besides his records, clutch shooting, and being one of the smartest players in the league, Stockton will probably be remembered by most as one of the toughest, most durable players ever. His longevity came despite setting the most tenacious picks in the league every night. Some would call him dirty. That's what you have to do when you have no other explanation as to why you keep getting your lunch handed to you by a guy that is 6" shorter than you and at least 50 pounds lighter.
Read the whole thing.