John Stockton was so tough that he didn’t mind the constant trash talk.

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Utah Jazz icon John Stockton wasn’t just physically strong.

Historically, the Utah Jazz have been blessed with pretty good guard play. Pete Maravich, Donovan Mitchell, Deron Williams; but none of them, not even Pistol Pete, live up to John Stockton’s legacy. The all-time Jazz and NBA passer in every important and relevant category left a legacy based on his passing, defense and shooting, making him an obvious Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players who has never touched a basketball court.

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And while we often speak highly of him as a passer and scorer, his defense is the part of his game for which he should perhaps be best known. He was a talented perimeter defender who was tasked with protecting the best point guards in basketball, and he did it very well.

His physical toughness was always praised for it. The guys he played with talked about his ability to beat centers’ screen attempts. He is praised for his physicality, to the point that some wonder if he was too physical.

However, we rarely hear about his mental toughness, an attribute that players should have regardless of the era in which they played. Speaking with Dan Patrick (via Basketball Network), Stockton talked about how things like trash talk never bother him, saying;

They said yes (trash talk). I didn’t notice it. I’m told he was quite focused. I’m sure the boys did it. I remember a guy yelling at me in a game because I didn’t respond to his trash talk. They kept shouting, ‘Talk to me!’ It suddenly occurred to me that he had been talking. I think I missed a lot.

His ability to tune out other players was one of the main factors that allowed him to excel in the tough ’80s and ’90s. It wasn’t an easy time to play in those decades, when defenses were allowed to do more and were less likely to the players were friends with everyone from their days in the AAU.

So for Stockton to have such a dogmatic personality, with unwavering mental toughness, speaks more about his game than anything else.


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