As he told Marc J. Spears over at Yahoo Sports, "Those battles [with Jordan] were a little easier. I would have Jordan get mad at me and go back at me. He knew he was really talented and could do whatever he wanted to. But [Stockton] was more of a challenge to me than guarding someone that would talk back to me. When you talk back to me and say something to me it made my game go to another level. John was one who wouldn't say nothing and you couldn't figure him out. He'd keep going in the pick and rolls and he and Karl Malone would score a big bucket. At times I would guard Jordan and get him mad and into other things."
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, and true greatness.
SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS — Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady were two very exciting basketball players for a few years there. They impressed me. But now that all is said and done — they both announced their retirement in the past week — it's time to look at the bottom line. When you add it all up? They both had very, very good careers. They should be proud of what they accomplished.
But they weren't Great.
I've seen way too many blog sites this week calling them legends, romanticizing their prime, and telling us how grateful we should all be that they graced us with their presence. Everyone is an expert these days, and all the conventional wisdom out there says these guys belong in the Hall of Fame. Well, not me.
Call me old-fashioned, but I say Springfield — like Canton, like Cooperstown — is a retirement home for our best and brightest. Where Stockton and Malone run that pick-and-roll forever, surrounded by the Bad Boy Pistons, the Showtime Lakers, Wes Unseld. All of them. Strolling through the double doors in Springfield, you're blinded by greatness almost as soon as you walk in.
The box score looks like a fairy tale, a numerical telling of a make-believe game that could’ve only existed in the mind of a slightly deranged romantic. Sixteen innings. Seven Hall of Famers. One run. Two pitchers.
Today, such a game would be impossible. On July 2, 1963, it was the real deal — the greatest pitcher’s duel of all time.
I have a different take (or more precisely, my buddy Aaron had a different take, he IM'd me demanding that I write it, and I agreed). It goes like this: As things stand now, Chipper Jones is a sure Hall of Famer. He's even a first-ballot Hall of Famer, despite the notoriously fickle leanings of some Hall voters who find it great sport to make former players and their families suffer a bit (or in some cases, die) before getting their reward. But what about his contemporaries, the best active major leaguers near the end of their careers? If they too announced they'd retire at the end of this season, would they make the Hall of Fame? Should they?
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday night.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are national champions. Trent Richardson ran for 96 yards and a touchdown as the Tide beat LSU 21-0 for the BCS title. The LSU offense crossed the 50-yard line just once the entire game, and the experience was so disorienting that quarterback Jordan Jefferson began wildly firing a musket as he shouted about "the savages."
When the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame welcomes Chris Mullin on Friday night, it’ll be worth remembering. Not just because making the Hall is an incredible feat. And not because Dennis Rodman might do something stupid next to him.