Now you can call him Coach Stockton.
Offered an opportunity “that I hadn’t expected,” Spokane’s own NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton said Tuesday that he’s accepted a position as an assistant coach for the Montana State women’s basketball team.
Stockton said it’s a win-win for him and his family – especially his daughter Lindsay, a senior guard with the Bobcats.
Asked if this meant that he was back in the game, Stockton countered that he’s never left; the fall after retiring from the Utah Jazz in 2003, he returned home to Spokane and coached seven different youth teams.
“I’ve always been busy,” said the 53-year-old Stockton, who’s pursued several business interests while raising six children with his wife, Nada. Five are still playing basketball, including former Gonzaga guard David and GU freshman Laura.
But as Stockton said at Tuesday’s press conference in Bozeman, Montana, “Having a senior in college is a priority. … It’s an opportunity to be around my daughter.”
“But we’re not going to turn our back on the rest,” said Stockton, who along with MSU coach Tricia Binford is still working on logistics for on-court practices and game days.
“My wife is behind this 100 percent, and she’s going to make up the slack at home,” said Stockton, who added that Nada prefers he does his coaching on the floor.
“When we’re together in the stands it doesn’t work out very well,” he joked.
Stockton said that the job offers him a chance to maintain his relationship with the MSU program, which also includes three other players he coached in Spokane: Hannah Caudill at Gonzaga Prep, and Delaney Junkermier and Lexi Dawkins on the Sandpipers AAU team in Spokane.
“I don’t feel like a stranger,” Stockton said. “I’m excited about the prospect of working with the kids. I’ve enjoyed watching the team over the past three years. I had a chance to be around them and develop relationships during their trip to the Bahamas this spring. It will be a fun group to work with.”
Stockton will replace Kellee Barney, who announced last week that she was leaving the program to enter private business and be with family in the Seattle area. Binford said she was seeking a smooth transition, and decided to call Stockton because he “has been consistently around our program and is someone we respect and trust.”
“He brings a lot to the table,” said Binford.
Stockton, 53, played 19 years in the NBA—all with the Utah Jazz. He’s the league’s all-time leader in assists (15,806) and steals (3,265). He was selected to 10 All-Star Games, and he was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2009.
“It’s an opportunity to help me grow, and I think I’m open for all of that,” Binford said. “He’s even said, ‘I’m going to speak up a lot maybe annoy you a bit.’”
The Bobcats finished 15-15 last year. MSU will open the season Nov. 4 when it hosts Montana Tech. The Bobcats will play at Big Sky rival Eastern Washington on Jan. 21.
Binford and Stockton declined to speculate whether he would continue to coach at MSU after Lindsay graduates.
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