Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

April 6, 2009
His final appearance moved Arco crowd to its feet

Between watching North Carolina's romp over Michigan State and ESPN's interviews with Hall of Fame inductees MIchael Jordan, John Stockton, David Robinson, Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer, I was reminded that Stockton played his final NBA game at Arco Arena against the Kings in the 2003 playoffs. He was 41 years old - and still averaged 7.7 during that final season. One of our Bee photographers took an incredible shot of Stockton, seated on the bench in the closing seconds of the Jazz defeat, head bowed, face in his hands, and the Arco crowd on in its feet behind the visitors bench, arms raised, applauding and appreciating one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

This is how special Stockton was: At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, he is still the league's all-time leader in steals and assists. Consider that while the career-long Utah Jazz star finished with 15,806 career assists, his nearest competitior was Mark Jackson ... with 10,334! Jason Kidd (10,148) and Magic Johnson (10,141) followed. Additionally, Stockton, whose huge hands enabled him to palm the ball and throw those one-bounce bullets that he was famous for, also averaged an NBA best 14.5 assists in 1989-90. Even for those of us non-stat freaks, those numbers are ridiculous. And to think he was drafted with the No.16 pick in 1984 .....

As for those other inductees ...

Congrats to the other inductees, including Sloan, another familiar face in Arco. He never won a championship, but there is no debating his influence on the game. I suspect he signed another one-year deal only weeks before Jazz owner Larry Miller died, basically to ensure a smooth transition to other family members.
As for Jordan, who was mainly responsible for denying Sloan, Stockton, Karl Malone an NBA ring, he has no equal. Maybe someday we'll be talking about LeBron James in Jordanesque terms, but not yet. Not even close. The discussion doesn't even begin until one of his successors suffocates opponentes the way Jordan did defensively. He was .... vicious. He sure sounded wistful during his interviews though, didn't he? As if he didn't know what to do with himself post-basketball? Guaranteed, he never sounded that lost during his career ....

One more nugget of useful info

My personal affinity for assists led me to discover that Reggie Theus ranks 21st on the league's list for total assists. Just wondering: Will modern players ever learn/embrace/discover the advantages of advancing the ball with the pass instead of the dribble? Nah. Makes too much sense. The next time David Stern asks what went wrong with his league, look no further than his point guard's insistence on dribbling the ball downcourt, wasting precious seconds, while fans look on and (yawn).

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