With the ‘Last Dance’ documentary just finishing, I think it is fitting to take a look back at a duo of players from that same era, who never had the same team success Jordan had. While teammates in Utah, Stockton and Malone were both dominant players in their own regard, and deserve more respect. Both have countless accolades and individual achievements, but are left ringless, and that immensely hurts their resumes. However, let’s take a quick look at both players, and why they are highly disrespected and underrated.
Starting with Stockton, who is without a doubt one of the best point guards of all time. He averaged a double-double with assists 9 years running, making the all-star game all nine years. He is the all time leader in both assists and steals, and led the league in assists per game 8 different times. A 10 time all-star, Stockton was one of the first ‘true’ point guards in the NBA, and many have modeled their game after how he played. Guys like Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Chrisn Paul’s games stem from the way John created opportunities for teammates and quarterbacked his team’s offense, as well as being an underrated defender.
In my opinion, Karl Malone is one of the most underrated players in league history. The 2nd all time leading scorer in NBA history is rarely even mentioned when talking top 10 players all time, and many new fans see more recent power forwards as far superior. However, the mailman has many accomplishments to his name, apart from his position on the all time scoring leaderboard. He was an all-star every year from age 24-38, apart from one injury riddled season. He has two MVPs, and was a lock for NBA 1st team during his prime. He was a double-double machine and most seasons was averaging 25+ points per game. Malone is easily one of the best big men of all time at either the 4 or the 5, due to his scoring ability, longevity and consistency throughout his career.
The team success that eluded this duo will always be their downfall, however, they have earned more respect. The Jazz went toe-to-toe with some incredible teams during this era, and many times were able to beat them. In one playoff run, they defeated the Barkley, Drexler and Olajuwon Rockets, David Robinson’s spurs, and Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers, just to lose to the Bulls. These two players had the Jazz competing every year during their primes, and should not be so easily ignored. It is rare to see a guard and forward duo stay together this long at the top of their games, and both players should be given more credit for their individual and team success.