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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Quiet man Stockton leaves a gap
By Mark Barden
BBC Sport

John Stockton has retired, and the NBA may never see his like again.

John Stockton in action for the Utah Jazz
Stockton is the all-time NBA leader in assists and steals

In an age when the sport has become hyped to the hilt, Stockton is a modest, unassuming man who has always let his basketball do the talking.

When the time came to quit, there was no 'farewell tour' or Michael Jordan-style hoopla - Stockton just played his final game then said 'that's it'.

The Utah Jazz guard announced his retirement after Utah fell at the first play-off hurdle against Sacramento.

Stockton's decision ends his partnership with power forward Karl Malone who intends to play on, probably with another team after he becomes a free agent this summer.

Even though he turns 40 this July, the Mailman still believes he has a shot at winning that elusive first NBA crown, whereas Stockon - at 41 - has called time on his title dream.

The NBA's all-time leader in assists and steals, he gave his all to win it with Utah, staying with the small-market franchise for a record 19 seasons.

The Jazz came close in 1997 and 1998, only to be thwarted in the finals by Michael Jordan's second coming at Chicago.

After announcing his retirement, Stockton said: "I'm sure there are people that have won championships that haven't had to work very hard at it.

JOHN STOCKTON FACTFILE
Stockton-Malone are no more
Born: 26/3/62, Spokane
University: Gonzaga
Drafted: 16th overall 1984
1989: 1st All-Star selection
1997: Jazz win 1st Conf title
1997-98: Utah lose NBA finals
2002: Makes 15,000th assist
May 2003: retires

"We worked very hard and haven't done it, yet I feel a lot of reward out of the effort that it took to compete for that."

It was a typically unflashy utterance from one of the NBA's unflashiest stars, who leaves the sport with little to prove.

Born in Spokane, Washington State, Stockton attended his hometown university Gonzaga and was selected 16th overall by Utah in the 1984 NBA draft.

He bows out with 15,806 regular-season assists and 3,265 steals, 10 All-Star appearances and two Olympic golds (1984 and 1992).

Despite being just 6ft 1in and 175lbs, he displayed remarkable durability during his career.

His 1,504 games are third on the all-time list, and he missed just 22 games in 19 seasons.

Always a good shooter, Stockton developed into a dependable scorer and a dangerous three-point threat. He averaged 13.1 points per game and shot 51.5 percent in his career.

However, he was at his best as a playmaker and defender, winning nine straight assists titles from 1988-1996 and a pair of steals titles during that period.

A devoted family man with five children, Stockton will still be shooting hoops - but only for pleasure at home.

"Tomorrow, probably out in the yard," he said. "It's still a great game."





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