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Stockton averaged a career double-double, with 13.1 points and 10.5 assists per game. He holds the NBA's record for most career assists (15,806) by a considerable margin, as well as the record for most career steals (3,265). He had five of the top six assists seasons in NBA history (the other belonging to Isiah Thomas). He holds the NBA record for the most seasons and consecutive games played with one team, and is third in total games played, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parish. He missed only 22 games during his career, 18 of them in one season. As a point of comparison, he played in 34 games where he tallied 20 or more assists.

Stockton appeared in 10 All-Star games, and was named co-MVP of the game in 1993 with Jazz teammate Karl Malone, which was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. He played with the 1992 and 1996 US Olympic basketball teams, known as Dream Team I and II, the first Olympic squads to feature NBA players, keeping the game ball from both Gold Medal games. He was selected to the All-NBA First Team twice, the All-NBA Second Team six times, the All-NBA Third Team three times, and the NBA All-Defensive Second Team five times. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996. Stockton's career highlight came in Game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals, in which he hit the winning 3-point shot over the Houston Rockets' Charles Barkley to send the Jazz to the first of its two consecutive NBA Finals appearances.

For many years, he and Malone were the Jazz's 1-2 punch. The two played a record 1,412 regular-season games together as teammates. Many of Stockton's assists resulted from passes to Malone.

Stockton earned the "old school" tag for his physical play (surveys of athletes and fans alike often judged him among the toughest players in the NBA, usually just behind teammate Karl Malone); his uniform "short shorts" (he was the most recent notable NBA player to wear them, preferring the style long after the rest of the league had adopted today's baggy look); his simple dress off the court, which contrasted with many of his NBA contemporaries; and his reserved demeanor.

On May 2, 2003, Stockton announced his retirement with a released statement instead of the customary news conference. The Jazz later held a retirement ceremony for him, in which Salt Lake City renamed the street in front of the Energy Solutions Arena, where the Jazz play, "John Stockton Drive." His number-12 jersey was retired by the Jazz during a game on November 22, 2004. A statue of Stockton can be seen in front of the Energy Solutions Arena; an accompanying statue of Karl Malone was placed nearby on March 23, 2006. The Malone and Stockton statues stand on a bronze plaque commemorating their achievements together.

Along with Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor, Reggie Miller, Pete Maravich, and his teammate Karl Malone, John Stockton is considered to be one of the best players never to have won a championship.

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