No tandem but John Stockton and Karl Malone could make a YMCA-league strategy work on the world's foremost stage of basketball. But for 18 years, the pair riddled the NBA with the simple pick-and-roll. That all came to an end April 30, when Sacramento ousted Utah in the first round of the playoffs. Shortly after the loss, Mr. Stockton retired. Mr. Malone wondered aloud if he would be with Utah for the next season.
As soon as Mr. Stockton announced his retirement, radio talk shows began the task of putting his career in historical perspective. A common dispute emerged: Would the Utah point guard have succeeded without his teammate, Mr. Malone? Most say he would have. Mr. Stockton's commitment to excellence and his team would have succeeded on any team at any time.
Current players could learn from the pair's commitment to the game. Over their 37 collective seasons, Mr. Stockton and Mr. Malone missed a combined 31 games-nine fewer than young star Vince Carter missed just this year.