John Stockton was as mentally tough as he was physically tough

John Stockton, Utah Jazz (Photo credit should read GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)
John Stockton, Utah Jazz (Photo credit should read GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images) /

Utah Jazz icon John Stockton wasn’t just physically tough.

The Utah Jazz have been blessed with some pretty great guard play historically. Pete Maravich, Donovan Mitchell, Deron Williams; but none of them, not even Pistol Pete, lives up to the legacy of John Stockton. The Jazz and NBA’s all-time passer in every major and relevant category made a legacy off of his passing, defense, and shooting, making him an obvious Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball court.

And while we often speak highly of him as a passer and scorer, his defense is the part of his game that he maybe should be known most for. He was a gifted perimeter defender who had the task of guarding the best guards in basketball, and he did so very well.

His physical toughness was always praised due to it. Guys he played with talked about his ability to run through screen attempts on him by centers. He’s praised for his physicality, to the point that some wonder if he was too physical.

Yet, rarely do we ever hear about his mental toughness, an attribute players need to have regardless of the era they played in. Speaking to Dan Patrick, (via Basketball Network), Stockton talked about never being bothered by things like trash talk, saying;

"I was told they did (trash talk) I didn’t notice it. I’ve been told I was fairly focused. I’m sure guys did. I remember a guy yelling at me one game because I didn’t respond to his trash-talking. They just kept yelling, ‘Talk to me!’ All of a sudden it occurred to me that he’d been talking. I think I missed out on a lot."

His ability to tune out other players was one of the major factors for him to excel in the very hard-nosed 80s and 90s. It was not an easy time to play ball back in those decades, when defenses were allowed to do more, and players were less likely to be buddies with everyone from their AAU days.

So for Stockton to be such a dogmatic personality, with an unwavering mental toughness, speaks more to his game than anything.

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