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John Stockton named to NBA’s 75th anniversary team

John Stockton, wearing white, drives around Cleveland’s Brevin Knight
John Stockton drives around Cleveland’s Brevin Knight as the Jazz beat Cleveland on Jan. 12, 1998.
Tom Smart, Deseret News

In honor of the NBA’s 75th anniversary this year, the league is unveiling the 75 greatest players in NBA history, and a Jazzman is on the team.

John Stockton was selected as one of the 75 greatest players to ever play the game on Wednesday as the NBA released 25 of the 75 players on the list.

Stockton, along with Karl Malone, who is also a lock to make the team, led the Jazz to two NBA Finals appearances and 19 playoff appearances — never missing the playoffs during his career with the Jazz. Stockton also rarely missed games. Stockton played in 1,504 of 1,526 games during his 19-season career with the Jazz.

Stockton holds nearly unbreakable records in assists and steals. Stockton’s 15,806 career assists are 3,715 ahead of second-place Jason Kidd and 5,531 ahead of fifth-place Chris Paul, the closest active player to Stockton. Stockton’s 3,265 career steals are 581 ahead of second-place Kidd and 933 ahead of fifth-place Paul, once again the closest active player to Stockton.

Stockton’s floor vision and durability, a 52% career field-goal percentage, a scoring machine in Malone to feed the ball to, and his tough defense make him one of the greatest point guards in history. He also made the most important shot in Jazz history, a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Houston Rockets in the 1997 Western Conference finals to send Utah to its first-ever NBA Finals.

Stockton was selected to 11 All-NBA teams, 10 All-Star Games and five All-Defensive teams and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2009.

The 75th anniversary team is selected by a panel of media and current and former players, coaches, general managers and team executives. A list of 25 players per day will be unveiled from Tuesday to Thursday. On Wednesday, ESPN will reveal 25 players on “NBA Today” at 1 p.m. MDT, and on Thursday, TNT will finish the list by announcing the final 25 players at 4 p.m. MDT on their pregame show.

The NBA did a similar list for its 50th anniversary in 1996, putting together the 50 greatest players in NBA history. Like the 75th anniversary team, a panel of media, players and executives selected the 50 members, which included three Jazz players — Stockton, Malone and Pete Maravich.