Assisted: An Autobiography (ISBN: 978-1-60907-570-5) by John Stockton, if nothing else, proved me right in my assumption. Memoir might be a better description of the book, but those arguments about semantics take nothing away from a rather thorough look at Stockton’s life as a little kid roaming the neighborhood with his friends on long summer days to his time as an NBA star and through his post-retirement activities. He told about his upbringing, his childhood, his high school days, his experiences in college, including various summer jobs, basketball, and dating. He talked about making it in the NBA, being a rookie, changes in the game, some of former Jazz owner Larry Miller’s quirks, and a host of other things that fans and disinterested parties alike might find interesting. He talked about his family, and his parents and wife in particular. He discussed a couple of his coaches, including Jerry Sloan, an NBA great and another hard-nosed, down-to-earth, blue-collar guy. Stockton’s discussion of the Olympics was fascinating because he was very open about his love for his country and the great responsibility he felt putting U.S.A. on his chest. He discussed his life after basketball, except that it hasn’t really been life after basketball as some of his kids of played at a very high level, he’s restored a warehouse and turned it into a community sports center, and he’s still involved in the occasional pickup game. Finally, as part of the proving my assumptions true, his tale is woven throughout with references to family, God, prayer, hard work, and other old-fashioned values.
I wanted to read this book the moment I saw it existed. Everyone knew John Stockton the leading assist man in the history of the world, but many felt they did’t know John Stockton the person. Like I said, I figured he was kind of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person, but I was intrigued to read nevertheless. The book was a draft of fresh air with each turn of a page. Stockton comes across as down-to-earth, brutally honest about some of the mistakes he’s made and shortcomings he’s got, and, in a way, an everyday guy that other everyday guys can identify with. Former Jazz coach Frank Layden, in a statement to the press when the Jazz drafted the unknown John Stockton, explained that he was Catholic and his dad owned a bar, so there really shouldn’t be any questions about him. Stockton didn’t think that would go over in Utah, largely Mormon and largely dry. I think he might’ve missed the point about those two characteristics equating to a person that was a good guy and that knew about old-fashioned work ethic. Stockton proved to be that guy and probably more. In a world fraught with vice like the NBA, Stockton was different and stepped up to the plate when it came to responsibility of being a role model that is inherent to the position. His thoughts on other issues, like abortion and family, were also very refreshing coming from a public figure. The book was well worth the time spend reading it and only solidified my respect for the greatest point guard ever to play the game.
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