25 years ago, John Stockton sent the Jazz to the NBA Finals at the buzzer
Among the most atypical dominant players in NBA history are John Stockton. A small (1m85), light (77 kilos) « everyman » without extraordinary athletic qualities, whom nothing predestined to shine so much in the NBA. And yet, in 19 seasons with the Jazz, he would establish himself as one of the most solid, consistent and statistically monstrous players of all time.
A monster of regularity
Two statistics prove it wonderfully: of the 1,526 regular season matches played between 1984 and 2003, he played 1,504! He only missed four matches in 1989-90, then 18 in 1997-98. Then, with 15,806 assists and 3,265 interceptions, he remains to this day the best passer and interceptor in NBA history.
The peak of his career is undoubtedly in the 1997 conference final. In Game 6 in Houston more precisely. The two teams compete in order to obtain a ticket for the Finals against the Bulls. Against Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, John Stockton delivers his best performance of the series, with 25 points and 13 assists.
Above all, still in the company of his faithful Karl Malone, he scored 13 of Utah’s last 19 points to allow his people to stay alive in « money time ». The last three entered the legend of the Salt Lake City franchise, but also of the NBA.
Charles Barkley’s tribute
There are 2.8 seconds left and the scoreboard is stuck at 100 everywhere. After a screen (not necessarily legal) from Karl Malone to free him, he receives the ball, puts a dribble to get closer to the 3-pt line and draws against a Charles Barkley too far to completely hinder him.
The buzzer sounds, the ball enters the basket: Jazz is in the Finals! « I don’t know if I can describe this moment »notably delivers the hero after the encounter. “It’s an incredible feeling. »
A handsome player, Charles Barkley recognizes the superiority of his opponent. “That’s why Stockton is one of the five best players I’ve faced in my career. He’s a badass. The best team won and the best player in this series was John Stockton. »
This shoot is one of the most decisive in the history of the NBA since it is among the seven which made it possible to conclude a series, with in particular the exploits of Damian Lillard, Michael Jordan and Kawhi Leonard.