Salt City Hoops » Magic Johnson The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:42:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Magic Johnson John Stockton Was Really, Really Good Wed, 05 Jun 2013 20:13:31 +0000 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles),, and previously for He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.

Within a matter of days, the NBA saw two all-time greats ride off into the sunset. After tremendous careers spanning parts of three decades, Grant Hill and Jason Kidd announced their retirements. The praise for their distinguished achievements that has since ensued is very fitting and deserving. The news has spawned debate as to where this pair fits in the annals of NBA lore.

Specifically, in the case of Kidd, it has lead to discussion of the best point guards in NBA history and where he fits in the pecking order. Seeing the barrage of tweets and articles that highlight Kidd’s career was enjoyable, but the Jazz devotee in me naturally gravitated to one Mr. John Stockton and his greatness.

Several have asked who had the better career: Kidd or Stockton? I won’t go too in-depth on this, as that is a topic for another day. Suffice it to say, that while Kidd has the edge in some areas (better rebounder, stronger defender, earned a championship with Dallas), Stockton has my vote due to his own advantage in others (all-time leader in two major statistical categories, durability, better shooter).

Even the most die-hard of Jazz fans can sometimes underestimate just how good Stockton was. If you will indulge me, I would like add another perspective on his place amongst his fellow elite point guards.

First, we know most of the following statistics and accolades by heart:

  • The all-time leader with 15,806 dimes. Led the league in assists nine consecutive seasons. Tallied 1,000+ assist seasons.
  • With 3,265 steals, also the all-time leader in thefts.
  • 10-time All-Star. Co-All-Star MVP in 1993.
  • 11-time All-NBA selection. Five-time All-Defensive team member.
  • Two-time Olympic gold medal winner.
  • Led the Utah Jazz to the playoffs each of his 19 seasons, including two Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998.
  • Played every game in 17 of his 19 campaigns. Including 182 postseason outings, #12 played in 1,686 of 1,708 possible games (98.7%).
  • Apparently one autobiography.
  • And so on and so on.

Well, here is one more statistic that illustrates Stockton’s mastery: points accounted for. I remember fondly many instances where John Stockton would orchestrate a brilliant quarter where he either scored or assisted nearly every basket for the Jazz. He essentially accounted for almost every point for his squad. This was a rather common occurrence, and one way in which he could quietly dominate.

The formula is simple: (assists x 2) + points scored. Obviously, we cannot accurately ascertain how many of a player’s assists resulted in three-pointers by teammates, but we can figure out the minimum points an individual accounted for during his career.

Along with the 15,806 assists, Stockton scored 19,711 points (which might be a surprising total: he was a very underrated shooter and scorer). While we cannot gauge how many three-pointers John assisted via the likes of Jeff Hornacek, Bryon Russell, and Darrell Griffith, we know that Stockton accounted for at least 51,323 points. Astounding.

Let’s compare him against some of the game’s best playmakers:


Name Games played Assists Points Scored Pts Accounted For
John Stockton 1,504 15,806 19,711 51,323
Oscar Robertson 1,040 9,887 26,710 46,484
Jason Kidd 1,391 12,091 17,529 41,711
Gary Payton 1,335 8,966 21,813 39,745
Magic Johnson 906 10,141 17,707 37,989
Steve Nash 1,202 10,249 17,285 37,783
Isiah Thomas 979 9,061 18,822 36,944
Andre Miller 1,126 7,956 15,496 31,348
Bob Cousy 924 6,955 16,960 30,950

These are some impressive numbers by some very impressive players, but Stockton’s total is remarkable. Obviously, his longevity and lack of missed games contributes greatly, as some counterparts accounted for more points per game played. In future posts, I will delve deeper into points accounted for, but for now, this gives you a feel for the impact Stockton had on the game. While Karl Malone and his prolific scoring earned most of the headlines, Stockton’s contributions were amazing.


Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles),, and previously for He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
]]> 14
Take it to the Court: A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Fri, 12 Nov 2010 21:06:55 +0000 Author information
Take it the Court is a new weekly column on SCH featuring the arguments, opinions, and random musing of a Utah Jazz fanatic.

In the preseason, Big Al Jefferson stated that he hoped to be the “Robin” to D-Will’s “Batman.”  As any kid who has spent time watching Saturday morning cartoons can attest, Robin was never Batman’s greatest teammate.  Recall that Batman teamed up with Superman, Wonder-woman, Aquaman – even Scooby Doo.  For all the arrogance of Ironman (née Tony Stark), his greatest allies were Thor, Captain America, and Nick Fury (to name a few).  Would the X-Men be as popular/successful as the X-man?  For all of Batman’s prowess in policing Gotham, he had greater impact and magnified his influence by teaming up with other superheroes.  So you ask, what do these comics have to do with the NBA?  Observe:

During this off-season, we all watched in abject horror (or amazement) as LeBron announced his decision to take his talents to South Beach. One of the best basketball talents of all time, ‘Bron essentially espoused the Batman model (or, as some may say, the Legion of Doom model) of teaming up with other superheros (Dwayne “don’t call me Flash” Wade & Chris Bosh) in order to chase his championship. As impressive as the Heat experiment has been in the opening weeks of the season, not all is right in south Florida.

As has been discussed ad nauseum (here and elsewhere), earlier this week, Paul Millsap exposed the weakness of Miami’s front-line (I’m looking at you Bosh).  The Jazz somehow overcame a HUGE deficit and 39 points from the basketball-player-formerly-known-as-Flash.  A fluke?  Perhaps.

But Miami’s other losses in the young season (two at the hands of the Boston Senior Citizens, and one to CP3 – the other best PG in the league) demonstrated just what is wrong with throwing a bunch of superstars together…a lack of chemistry.  Against the Hornets, Miami allowed CP3 to put up 19 dimes and 13 points – Okafor posted a double-double – three other players scored in double figures.  In two games against the Shamrocks, Miami has looked the part of the pretender – not the contender that was promised.  In an alpha-dog league, no one is quite sure where their place is in the Heat-pack.

When ‘Bron decided to go to Miami, many (myself included) thought him a coward for teaming up with his “Super Friends.”  What would this mean for the future of free agency?  Would Carmelo and CP3 make good on Paul’s toast to NYC and joining Amar’e with the Knicks?  Was parity in the NBA a thing of the past?  How could the Utahs and San Antonios of the league compete with the NY Yankee model being copied in the NBA  (hard cap)?  Perhaps the league could consolidate into 6-8 “super-teams,” and leave the “average” NBA talent in the D-League (and send the D-Leaguers off to find work in the “real world”).

In today’s megalithic NBA, superstar Free Agents have the ability to demand outlandish salaries.  Granted, the value of a dollar is the same for me as for LeBron James – but what can he buy with $125 million that he can’t buy for $115 million?  Really?  If you have the basketball talents of Kobe Bryant, LeBron, Dwayne (and to a lesser extent, Deron Williams), why not simply pick a home and have your similarly talented friends come play with you?  I’m sure games of H.O.R.S.E after Miami’s practice are much more spirited with Dwayne Wade and LeBron James going at it…I mean really, who wants to face off against Lazar Hayward in Minnesota when you could be playing the King just steps from the beach?

Business as Usual

MJ made it clear that he never would have called up Magic or Bird to from a triumvirate championship monster.  Magic said that he was too concerned with figuring out how to beat Bird to consider teaming up with his rival.  Bird, too.  If you take those comments at face value, you’d think that Magic, Bird, and Jordan single-handedly won championships (combining for 14 ‘chips in 18 years).  For all their contributions to their teams, though, last time I checked, basketball is a team sport…and all three had the benefit of stellar supporting casts.

  • Magic teamed up with all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, not to mention another Hall-of-Famer, James Worthy. They had a pretty great Coach, too – Slicked-back Pat (Riley).
  • Larry Legend didn’t do it all himself – he was part of one of the best front-lines in NBA history – surrounded by Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale.  The Celts won the ’86 title on the backs of FIVE future Hall of Famers (the aforementioned, Dennis Johnson, and Bill Walton).
  • MJ?  His ‘chips never came until Chicago traded away rookie (and future Jazzman) Olden Polynice to Seattle for a former walk-on at NAIA’s Central Arkansas.  Under the tutelage of Jordan and Zen-master Jackson, Scottie Pippen developed into one of the all-time greats.

Forgive me, then, if I find MJ, Magic, and Bird a little disingenuous in their musings about not teaming up with the greats – instead, only wanting to beat the greats.  Surely each of their many successes were aided by the superstars around them.

Here is the key difference, though: MJ, Bird, and Magic had teams that were carefully built by the organization to serve a specific purpose.  Is the union between Kobe and Pau Gasol more holy because it was brokered by management rather than between friends?  You bet.  Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan have earned a spot in NBA lore playing together at the behest of their organization – not in choosing to play with their best friends.  I may be alone in this, but I would trust the championship basketball IQ of Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich, and Pat Riley over the IQ of young superstars who can’t see the forest for the trees [Author's note: In Riley's defense, who would turn down LBJ or Chris Bosh?].  Personally, I’d look to Professor X for guidance before asking an unstable, aggressive and emotional Wolverine.

Super Heroes or Super Villains? (Marc Serota/Getty Images North America)

A Superhero Model for Winning Championships?

As all too familiar to Karl Malone (and broken-hearted, betrayed Utah loyalists), simply assembling the best players onto a team doesn’t necessarily lead to the O’Brien trophy.  The Mailman’s foray to Laker-Land with Gary Payton, Shaq, Kobe, and Phil Jackson didn’t result in the automatic ‘chip he had hoped for.  In 2004, a Detroit TEAM made up mostly of Bruce Waynes and Clark Kents ousted their rivals of Batmans and Supermans (err..Black Mamba, Glove, Diesel, Mailman, Zen-Master).

Utah, New Orleans, and Boston have shown the league just what it takes to beat the Heat: playing team basketball (and attacking their weak front line).  Miami is vulnerable.  In the words of Whiplash, Ironman’s nemesis in the recent Hollywood film, Iron Man 2:

If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in him, there will be blood in the water, the sharks will come. All I have to do is sit back and watch as the world consumes you.

Remember, Miami – for all the advantages of playing on the beach, never forget your proximity to the sharks.

– –

Contact Jefferson W. Boswell at jeffersonboz [AT] gmail [DOT] com

Author information

]]> 4