Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Perfect Player

About a week ago John Stockton was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was my favorite basketball player growing up and someone I always looked up to. He made it cool to pass, to work hard, and he always put the team and his family first.

After Bill Belichick’s comment that recently retired linebacker Tedy Bruschi was a “perfect player” Jerry Sloan said that John Stockton is the closest thing he's ever seen to a perfect NBA player. "I'd never heard that before," Sloan told the Salt Lake Tribune, "but it certainly would represent John Stockton in almost every aspect of basketball."

John Stockton led his team to 19 playoff appearances, making it to the NBA finals twice. I will never forget the first, when he made the three pointer over Charles Barkley at the buzzer to win the series. The Jazz didn’t usually show a lot of emotion, but boy did they show it then!

He played in 10 all star games, being named co-MVP of the 1993 game with teammate Karl Malone. He was selected to the All-NBA teams 10 times and named to the NBA All-Defensive teams five times. In 1996 he was named one of the 50 greatest players ever to play in the NBA, he truly did it all.

John Stockton commandingly holds the records for both Assists and Steals. He had 5,483 more assists than second place Mark Jackson. To demonstrate how amazing this is, only 33 players in NBA history have ever recorded 5,483 assists. He has over twice as many assists as Steve Nash who has won two MVP awards.

He holds the record for assists-per-game average over one season with 14.5, and is one of only three players to record over 1,000 assists in one season. Kevin Porter and Isiah Thomas did it once, Stockton did it SEVEN times!

Not only could he play great defense and make everyone around him better, but he was a great scorer. He ranks #30 on the all-time NBA scoring list with 19,711 career points.

With all of these records and success you might think it would go to his head. This was never the case. He was as humble as could be. He was often the smallest player on the court, he didn’t look very imposing, but he always gave it his all. Karl Malone said he would wake up during the off season and think to himself, John’s at home working out, so I better get working. He inspired everyone around him, his teammates often had their best seasons of their career. If they worked hard they knew that he would reward them.

He tried to stay out of the limelight, and was very successful. Check out this video it is hilarious!

I was fortunate enough to meet John Stockton, although not as fan friendly as Karl Malone. (Who I have met a few times, he and his brother gave my brother and I fishing lessons).

His autograph is one of my prized possessions. My dad won tickets to the game that he broke the steals record. (Luckily he got a steal that day) After the game they gave us a certificate that said we were in attendance. Later in the year we attended one of the Jazz practices. We hoped that we could get all of the Jazz players to sign autographs.

Every single player signed for me except for Stockton, this did not stop my determination. We waited out in the parking lot for him to head home, he was the very last player to leave. At this point there was only my little brother and I waiting. We asked again for his autograph and he said only if we would walk with him to his car. We agreed and I was able to get the certificate signed.

As he enters the Hall of Fame I will always remember him as the perfect player. He gave his all, made those around him better. He could score with the best, yet was satisfied to let someone else get the glory of scoring. He never liked all of the attention and awards, yet they came in abundance and may have come more freely if he had been willing to work more with the media and fans. His assist record may never be broken. I know, in my heart at least, that he will always be the best point guard to ever play the game.

This video almost brings tears to my eyes, so many good memories.

1. John Stockton 15,806
2 Mark Jackson 10,334
3 JASON KIDD 10,199
4 Magic Johnson 10,141
5 Oscar Robertson 9,887
6 Isiah Thomas 9,061
7 Gary Payton 8,966
8 Rod Strickland 7,987
9 STEVE NASH 7,505
10 Maurice Cheeks 7,392

1 John Stockton 3,265
2 Michael Jordan 2,514
3 Gary Payton 2,445
4 Maurice Cheeks 2,310
5 Scottie Pippen 2,307
6 Clyde Drexler 2,207
7 JASON KIDD 2,198
8 Hakeem Olajuwon 2,162
9 Alvin Robertson 2,112
10 Karl Malone 2,085

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Better Days

Life has its ups and downs, I know mine has. Although I have had a lot to go through the past year I really can’t complain. I have been trying to think about what to write, but nothing has really come to mind, other than life is good. So let me list a few reasons why:

First of all I love my class this year! Not to say I didn’t last year, because I did, but it is so much easier. It isn’t just that I now have more experience and have learned from my mistakes and successes, but I really have a great class. I have some talkers, but slowly one by one they are getting better. I'm not sure it will ever be perfect, but if it's because they are excited about what we are learning, that is a good thing.

Plus I like to talk too, so I can't really complain. Sometimes at faculty meetings last year they wouldn't let me sit by my team to keep us from talking. They said it was so that we could share ideas amongst grade levels, but then they didn't split up any other teams. Unfortunately, for them, I am slowly starting to make friends with more people, so it won’t work for long!

I have also enjoyed having my students come back and visit me or pop their heads in on their way home. I feel like a celebrity whenever I walk into the lunch room because I hear my name being yelled out with kids saying hi. I know most of the kids that tell me I am their favorite teacher have probably said that to all of their teachers, but it still feels good to hear it. A few of my students have said I’m mean, or not fair, but I always have several other students who back me up, it’s great.

School is not the only thing going great, all is also well in the sports world. I love BYU football and to have them ranked #7 is pretty awesome. We had over 25 people at our apartment the day we beat then #3 Oklahoma. I can honestly say that it was the best atmosphere I have ever been in for a game I watched on TV. We only had 20 people here for our 54-3 victory yesterday, it was still really fun though. I look forward to our first home game!

We have also started intramurals again! Our soccer team may be the best I have ever played with. We had a tie our first game, I wasn’t very happy about it. I actually ran six miles after the game because I was frustrated. It was nice getting to play though. We also have some girls in our ward that are really good and we have been playing a lot with them.

The NBA season is just around the corner and our flag football team has it’s first game soon. It has been nice to be able to get excited about the local sports teams. John Stockton and Jerry Sloan were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this week. It brought back a lot of amazing memories as I watched highlights and interviews. Even more fun than watching sports though has been playing them. Hopefully we can get some basketball in along with everything else.

Another thing that has made life good is having our apartments full again. There are so many fun people in our ward. Also, for really the first time, we get along really well with all the guys in the ward. In past years it has sometimes seemed like they were the competition, this year they are our friends. The girls are great too, I love my ward!

Between school, sports, and sparks I have written enough I think. I could really go on for pages about why life is good. It’s easy to dwell on the bad in life, but there is so much that is good. Today is a day to be grateful, life is good, life is great, life is unbelievable.