Facts and figures

"The best pure
point guard
who ever
the game"

Stoic Stockton breaks out

» Chris Baker / Los Angeles Times

SALT LAKE CITY _ Utah Jazz guard John Stockton is as cold as a Utah winter night when he's on the court.

While his teammates preen and pose after making good plays, Stockton's dour expression rarely changes.

But Stockton lost his composure after making two shots in the final 16 seconds of a come-from-behind victory over the Miami Heat last month. After drilling a 3-point basket with 16 seconds left to tie the score, Stockton made the game-winning shot at the buzzer and leaped into the arms of teammate Adam Keefe.

“I don't think he's unemotional,” Keefe said of Stockton. “I think he's very stoic. He tries to eliminate the ups and downs of emotional play. He's much better when he's level throughout.”

The emotional outburst was totally out of character for Stockton.

“You can't afford to hop around and act like a kid when you have to get back on defense and worry about the other parts of the game,” Stockton said. “But at the end when the buzzer sounds, you have the luxury of hopping around and looking foolish for a while.”

Stockton, who surpassed Magic Johnson as the NBA's all-time assists leader last season, has made many opponents look foolish during his 12-year NBA career.

Stockton and Johnson, teammates on the 1992 Olympic basketball team, play tonight for the first time since Johnson's abrupt retirement in 1991 when the Jazz visit the Lakers at the Forum.

“They both make their teammates much better when they're out on the court,” Keefe said. “They're both unselfish. The difference is that Magic looks to score more and he presents more matchup problems because of his size.”

“John Stockton is the Joe Montana of basketball,” said Jazz president Frank Layden, who coached Stockton for the first four years of Stockton's NBA career.

“One of the things he doesn't get enough credit for is his tremendous durability. He never misses a game. In the day of the pampered athlete, he still likes to play basketball. He has fun playing basketball. I think that's his greatest asset, his attitude.”

Stockton, who has played in 490 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak in the league, has missed only four games as a pro, playing in 942 of a possible 946 games. His 490 consecutive games are all in a starting role, which is the league's longest streak of consecutive games started.


Utah Jazz guard John Stockton, right, looks to pass against pressure from Dallas Mavericks guard Steve Nash during an April game in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

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