Jazz retire Stockton's No. 12

Nov. 22, 2004

AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Twenty years after he put it on for the first time, John Stockton watched the Utah Jazz retire his No. 12 Monday night.

Dozens of friends, including former teammates Karl Malone, Mark Eaton and Adrian Dantley, and family joined Stockton on the court for the halftime celebration during Utah's home game against New Orleans. Stockton had to wait for a long ovation to die down before he could address the packed arena.

"I want you all to take pride in it because you all had something to do with it," Stockton told the fans. "I felt welcome every day I played out here. This is home."

Stockton and his children pulled the chord that unveiled the giant No. 12 hanging from the rafters.

Plenty of players and coaches from Stockton's past were on hand.

Frank Layden, Utah's coach when Stockton was drafted in 1984, said he had to be talked in to using the 16th overall pick on the kid from Gonzaga. He also credited Stockton with helping turn around a struggling franchise in a small market and keeping it here.

"We started to move toward being a championship team when we picked up John Stockton. He became the catalyst to what this organization was going to be about for many years to come," Layden said.

Jerry Sloan, who took over for Layden 17 years ago and has held the job ever since, choked up with emotion as he thanked Stockton.

"He set a terrific standard here with this organization," Sloan said. "With his attitude, with his approach to practice. Every single day, he was going to be the best he could be."

Stockton's number is the sixth to be retired, putting him in the rafters with Pete Maravich (7), Darrell Griffith (35), Eaton (53) and Jeff Hornacek (14). A No. 32 is sure to be lifted when Malone retires.

Stockton played his entire career - 1,504 out of a possible 1,526 games - for the Jazz and finished with 19,711 points, 15,806 assists and 3,265 steals. He also holds NBA records for most assists in a season (1,164 in 1990-91) and average per game in a season (14.5 in 1989-90).



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