I left out a couple stories from last week’s article for the sake of space, but I’ve had a few friends ask if there were any others I could include in another “You KNOW these guys!” post. And really, though we’ve had one crazy commenter here at Salt City Hoops who says that John Stockton is overrated, I think 99.9% of Jazz fans never get tired of Stockton highlights or stories. So I’ll share a couple here. One, again, from Larry H. Miller’s wonderful autobiography “Driven,” and another one that’s a personal story.
From the Stockton chapter in the autobiography:
“There was a teenage girl in Farr West who had cancer who was brought to my attention. She was a big John Stockton fan, so I called John and asked him if he would go visit her. One of the first things he asked was if the media was going to be there. When I told him no, he said he would go and asked if I would go with him. I asked John to let me go into the house first, so I knocked on the door and the girl’s mother answered and I entered the house. The mother told the girl, ‘You have someone here to see you.’ I walked in and met the girl. She had a John Stockton poster on the wall. I told her, ‘I’ve brought somebody here to see you.’ Then John came in. her face lit up like a Christmas tree. I watched John with her. He was so kind and considerate and very gentle. That’s how John is. More important, he did things for the right reasons. He wasn’t doing it for attention—in fact, he wouldn’t have done it if the media were there. He was doing it for the girl. He didn’t want anyone to know.”
I love this story for many reasons. One is that Stockton really did do things for the right reasons (maybe “The Bachelor” hasn’t completely ruined that phrase for me, after all!). He didn’t do the things he did for attention—he did them because he genuinely cared and wanted to do what he could to help. Even cooler, he asked Larry H. Miller to go with him. That’s a pretty bold request for someone who built and busily oversaw a multi-million dollar empire, but Stockton made the request anyway and, showing his generous character, Miller agreed to go along.
And then Stockton’s commentary on the story:
“One of the things I remember about the visit is that Larry would do something like that. How does a guy that busy get a phone call asking for something like that, and how does he pick it out as real and unique and take the step to do it? He must’ve gotten thousands of calls like that, but he made time and told someone he would do it and he did it.”
This portion speaks to an interesting insight into Larry H. Miller’s character. I can’t even imagine the number of phone calls, letters, and requests that he must have received each day, probably a handful like this, and with so many folks deserving of love, attention, commendation, healing, etc. How do you go about picking which cases are real and unique? And then, do you actually do something about it? All while running a massive organization, spending 80 hours a week working? It boggles my mind, but shows a tender, generous side from which we can all learn a little something.
As for my fun, personal experience with John Stockton, it happened in October 2001 when I was a teenager. I flew up to Utah to attend the LDS General Conference and stayed with a relative. One evening, Stockton called the relative asking for a favor and I was invited to tag along to meet him. I’d heard so many stories of Stockton being so guarded and desperately wanting privacy for himself and his family, so I wasn’t quite sure how this would go, me being a huge fan and all. When we got there, he bounded over to me, stuck out his hand, introduced himself, and chatted with me, completely engaged, for several minutes. He didn’t have to do that, but I was so grateful that he did. He was kind, he was friendly, and he was warm.
But the best part? It was October in Utah—not necessarily the warmest time of year, but not frigid yet, either—and he was wearing a red polo and mid-thigh khakis shorts. Not knee-length khakis shorts (much more in style at the time, and, well, ever), but short khakis shorts. Of course.
It made me love him even more.