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John Blanchette: A Journey’s end

Stockton’s Hall of Fame career follows path adorned with success stories

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(Photo: The Spokesman-Review) (Photo: The Spokesman-Review)

John Blanchette
johnbl@spokesman.com; (509) 459-5509

More than two decades of basketball images merge into one tonight when John Stockton is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, taking his rightful place with the game's greatest figures.

The context could hardly be more fitting. With Michael Jordan headlining the hall's Class of 2009, Stockton is left with a relative sliver of the spotlight - just the way he likes it - and is happily sharing that with the coach who presided over most of his professional career, Jerry Sloan. The addition of David Robinson, a fellow Dream Teamer, and Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer make it arguably the best induction group in the hall's history, and ensemble pieces have always appealed to Stockton.

His credentials are self-evident: the National Basketball Association's career leader in steals and assists, the latter a record unlikely to be broken; voted one of the league's 50 greatest players in its first half century; twice an Olympic gold medalist; 10 times an All-Star game participant, and twice voted to the All-NBA first team; an unprecedented 19 seasons with the same team, the Utah Jazz, and the longest NBA career by a player not 7 feet tall.

It would take each of those 19 years to assemble all the testimonials that have been lobbed his way, from the game's sages - John Wooden cited him as the single NBA player he would pay to watch - to his playing contemporaries, Magic Johnson foremost among them.

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