I've been a Jazz fan for a long time, particularly of those two. They were never the flashiest players, but I love an underdog, and perhaps because of my own blue-collar upbringing, I've always had a fondness for the teams and players that get it done by hard work and teamwork.
But I think I'm in the minority. In an interview I read several years ago, Larry Bird noted with irritation that the Jazz was one of the best teams in the league, but they never seemed to get any promotion. Who wanted to put the Jazz on NBC when you could get higher ratings showing then-rookie Shaquille O'Neill on an inferior team, but breaking lots of backboards?
Now the commentators who've barely talked about Malone and Stockton for years are falling over themselves to kiss their asses. Last night I heard sportscasters suddenly start claiming that Stockton is a tougher competitor than Michael Jordan and a greater player than Larry Bird. I realize that hyperbole usually rears its head when someone's retiring or on the verge of it, but seriously, if this is all so obvious, how come you never mentioned it before? I'm contemplating a career change to color commentator. I may have some serious gaps in my basketball knowledge, but honestly, do you think I could sound any dumber than Bill Walton?
(And while I'm at it, would somebody please explain to me why people think Charles Barkley is such a great sportscaster? Yes, I know he's charmingly controversial, and they don't pay him to think before he speaks, but really!!)
At least the Kings fans were totally classy. They gave Stockton (possibly Malone also?) a standing ovation and several obvious Kings fans still had signs expressing their admiration. We'll never see a basketball duo the likes of them again. (Though I'm still crossing my fingers for another season. No disrespect intended to Jordan, but I think Stockton's aged better -- still leading the league in assists at age 41.)