To have the opportunity for (David) to play there, is just a great day for the whole family, the opportunity to play some place dear to him like this. We look forward to him doing a great job. —John Stockton, on David Stockton signing with the Utah Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY — It was something John Stockton will never forget.
Not the shot against Houston that sent the Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997. That was good. But this?
It’s all about the kid.
“We’re beyond excited,” said the Hall of Fame guard.
Stockton’s son David agreed to a 10-day contract to play for — wait for it — the Utah Jazz on Friday, the former Jazzman confirmed. That’s right, dad and lad. One spent 19 years with the Jazz and collected more assists than any player in history. The other spent 10 days with the Sacramento Kings and has recently played for the Reno Bighorns of the G League.
Not that the senior Stockton is about to make comparisons.
“I’m glad to stay out of that,” he said. “He’s his own player and it wouldn’t do him any good to try to be me. He can just be the best he can be.”
In 2014-15, David played three games for the Kings, logging 33 minutes and scoring eight points. Oh, and nine assists. David, like his father, played at Gonzaga, where he started 39 games and as a senior averaged seven points and four assists.
Neither Stockton looked first to score.
With point guard Raul Neto out with an injury, the Jazz made the move. As if Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and 20 wins in the last 22 games weren’t enough, the team has one more saleable item: a Stockton.
Now if they can get Jerry Sloan to take a seat on the bench as an assistant coach.
(You’re welcome, marketing people.)
“To have the opportunity for (David) to play there is just a great day for the whole family, the opportunity to play some place dear to him like this,” Stockton said. “We look forward to him doing a great job.”
In the interest of disclosure, I’ll admit I didn’t expect to reach John. He never was much for publicity. Though always good to complete the obligatory postgame and practice interviews, he freely admitted it wasn’t his favorite task. I once saw him standing near a large plant at Salt Lake International Airport, waiting for luggage, trying to be inconspicuous.
I sneaked up behind the plant, stuck a pen and notebook between branches — pretending to be an autograph seeker — and in a falsetto voice said, “Mr. Stockton, would you sign this?”
As he jerked his head around, I jumped from behind the plant and said, “Gotcha!”
“You,” he said with a laugh, “are a sick man.”
So when he picked up the phone on Friday, I knew he didn’t answer for himself. Most parents try to live for their kids, regardless of fame and fortune.
“Absolutely,” John said. “That’s the nature of being a parent. You worry more about them. When you’re in the middle [of your own life], all you have to do is worry about yourself. With your kids, you really don’t have much you can do about it — just sit back and watch and try to enjoy.”
He said he didn’t have much advice, other than to “just be himself.”
“He’s a good player,” John said.
David Stockton might not stick in the NBA or be in the Hall of Fame. Those 10 days with the Jazz could turn into 10 more, or they might be his last chance. But he made it, just like his father. John was so unsure of his chances as a rookie that he bought cases of canned chili and turned down the heat in his apartment. No wonder he agreed to talk on Friday. The franchise John loved, and still does, was giving his son a chance. It wasn’t a Hall of Fame moment. It was even better than that.