Early in his Utah Jazz career, Deron Williams sought out John Stockton for advice
Deron Williams, coming into his rookie season with the Utah Jazz, was aiming to gain a starting point guard role on a team that had previously been led by one of the greatest of all-time, John Stockton.
A 10-time All-Star, 9-time assist champion, 2-time steal champion, and five-time all-defensive team member, Stockton proved his legacy in his 19 seasons and over 1,500 games with the franchise. His Hall of Fame honor was a no-brainer.
All said and done, Stockton scored nearly 20,000 points, over 15,000 assists, and over 3,200 steals. To this day he leads the franchise in games played, assists, 3-pointers, and is second to only Karl Malone in points.
Williams had major shoes to fill, and while Stockton is firmly the franchise’s greatest backcourt player of all-time, Williams was great as well. Named to an All-Star team with the team, he averaged 17.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game as a member of the Jazz.
He didn’t have the same two-decade legacy that Stockton did all with one team, but Williams served his time well under Jerry Sloan in Salt Lake City.
John Stockton was like a Utah Jazz Jedi for Deron Williams
Deron Williams, coming into his rookie season as a Utah Jazz point guard, was tasked with a lot. He had to face the position that the franchise’s greatest player played, and was going to be expected to perform well in the role. His margin for error was razor thin.
To prepare him for the role, Williams sought out the advice (per the franchise’s request) of Stockton himself.
Speaking to Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on the Knuckleheads podcast, Williams spoke on his experience connecting with Stockton prior to his rookie season.
“Before my rookie season they sent me up there, they sent me up to Spokane. I spent like five days with him. It was amazing.”
He spoke to the great knowledge he got in just a few short days in Washington with Stockton. He got info on what it might be like playing for Jerry Sloan, and some insight into Stockton’s best workouts.
“I learned a lot, honestly, in just those five days, we talked about pick-and-roll scenarios, talked about you know basically what to expect from coach. He put me through several workouts that he used to do, and different little shooting drills where he would shoot off the wrong foot. Little things that really helped me a lot I think throughout the course of my career, and it was just, I mean, when you get a chance to learn from a guy like that, it’s amazing.”
For Williams, in looking back on his career now, one of his regrets is not reaching out to Stockton to do it again.
“My biggest regret was not reaching back out to him after and doing it again. It should have been something that I probably did like every summer. Because John’s not… you can tell he’s one of those guys that’s not big into the spotlight, not big into the limelight. He’s happy with his life up there, so he’s not a guy who’s just going to reach out. I think [the Jazz] reached out to him and were like, ‘hey, we’ve got this new guy, we want to send him up there.'”
For you Star Wars fans out there, it has to remind you of a young Jedi seeking out an old and reclusive Jedi Master to get perspective, training, and help as they take on a major responsibility guarding the galaxy.
While Williams wasn’t the one to save the Utah “galaxy”, he surely wouldn’t have been as good as he was without some early guidance from Skywalker, er, Stockton himself.