View Full Version : Stockton Retires

May 03, 2003, 07:47
John Stockton, the N.B.A.'s career leader in assists, plans to retire after 19 seasons, and he met with Utah Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan and the owner Larry Miller to tell them.

"I think I'm finished," Stockton said today. "I informed those guys and that's the direction I'm headed. I just said, `I think it's time to move on.' "

The 15,806 assists and 3,265 steals recorded by the 41-year-old Stockton rank first in league history. And they all came with the Jazz.

Utah's season ended Wednesday with a 111-91 loss to the Sacramento Kings, who won the first-round playoff series, 4-1.

Stockton spoke briefly with reporters before his emotions took over. On the verge of tears, he ended the interview.

Stockton had not told his teammates, even forward Karl Malone, who spent 18 seasons receiving thousands of passes from his pick-and-roll partner.

Malone said: "I used to have a coach who said, `Make your teammate an All-Star.' That's what he tried to do every night. There will not be another one."

Stockton's leanings marked the first major turn of what figures to be an eventful off-season for the Jazz. Malone can be a free agent this summer.

Despite his age and despite playing his fewest minutes since the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, Stockton remained among the league leaders at point guard, finishing fifth in the N.B.A. with 629 assists. Stockton averaged 10.8 points this season, down from his career high of 17.2 in the 1990's.

He was selected as one of the 50 greatest players in N.B.A. history, and he played in every game in 17 of his 19 seasons.

The Jazz drafted Stockton 16th over all out of Gonzaga, the university in his hometown, Spokane, Wash. He was hardly well known - just a quiet, skinny 22-year-old with a thatch of jet black hair.

His appearance never changed much, but his anonymity vanished quickly once Frank Layden made him a starter in the 1987-88 season. That's when Stockton and Malone established themselves as one of the top tandems in N.B.A. history.
Stockton went on a five-season spree averaging at least 1,100 assists and 200-plus steals while scoring 14.7 to 17.2 points a game.

Establishing himself as one of the top point guards in the league, he earned a spot on the 1992 United States Olympic team, along with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

He was an Olympian again in 1996, the summer before the Jazz went from contenders to Western Conference champions.

Stockton and Malone led the Jazz to back-to-back conference titles in 1997 and 1998, when Jordan and the Chicago Bulls spoiled Utah's best chances for an N.B.A. title.
Stockton will always be known more for his pinpoint passing and tenacity on defense than his shooting. But some of the Jazz's most memorable baskets came from Stockton's hand.

It was Stockton's 26-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer in Houston that gave Utah its first trip to the N.B.A. finals in 1997. In the 1999 playoffs, his 22-footer at the horn saved the Jazz from elimination, and Utah went on to beat Sacramento in the first round.

Unseld Takes Leave

WASHINGTON, May 2 (AP) - Washington Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld is taking a leave of absence to deal with health issues.

Unseld, 57, will leave the team after the N.B.A. draft on June 26 for an undetermined amount of time.

"It's time for me to take a break," Unseld said in a statement released by the team. "I've been putting some things off for several years now that I need to address, but it was important to me to leave on my own terms and in my own time frame. I've been coming to work here for 36 years, and I'm ready for a change."

The statement said Unseld would have no further comment.

Unseld has been with the franchise since 1968, when he was selected out of Louisville in the second round. He led Washington team to the N.B.A title in 1978, retired as a player in 1981 and later served for seven years as coach and seven years as general manager.

Unseld was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988 and was chosen one of the 50 greatest players in N.B.A. history in 1996.
"When Wes told me of his decision, I was shocked, but at the same time I understood his thinking," the Wizards' owner, Abe Pollin, said. "He has done so much for so many people, including me, and now I'm glad that Wes will finally have time to do something for himself."