Utah Jazz: Stockton, Sloan make surprise Hall picks
Jerry Sloan and Charles Barkley.
John Stockton and Isiah Thomas.
Certainly, considering all the wars Sloan, Barkley, Stockton and Thomas waged on the basketball court over the years.
Still, those fierce battles must have resulted in mutual respect -- a fact that became evident Tuesday when it was learned Sloan selected Barkley and Stockton picked Thomas to be their official presenters at Friday's Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Springfield, Mass.
Presenters must already be members of the Hall of Fame and both former NBA stars fit that criteria.
Barkley, a 16-year veteran, an 11-time All-Star and former Most Valuable Player, was inducted in 2006.
Thomas, an All-Star in 12 of his 13 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and the MVP of the 1990 Finals, was inducted in 2000.
When Stockton was named to the original Dream Team in 1992, he got the roster spot many thought would go to Thomas.
For that reason and others, Stockton's selection of Thomas as his presenter was a huge surprise -- at least to outsiders.
"First of all, he set a huge standard for all little guys," Stockton said. "At the time, the NBA was going toward bigger and bigger guards. But he showed everyone that little guys could play, too."
Thomas, who played high school basketball in Chicago, also taught Stockton an early lesson on how much he needed to elevate his game to be a success outside of Spokane, Wash.
"I ran up against him once in high school and he changed my entire view of basketball," Stockton said. "We played in an AAU tournament and I have never seen anything like it."
Beyond the game, Thomas caught Stockton's attention with some good deeds.
"He's done some things behind the scenes that people don't know about," Stockton said. "I'm certainly not going to talk about them now ... but he's shown a lot of class."
Sloan's selection of Barkley as his presenter was only slightly less surprising than Stockton's choice of Thomas.
For Sloan, the reason was simple.
"The biggest thing, I guess, is that my [late] wife Bobbye was a big fan of his," Sloan explained. "At the  All-Star Game in Orlando, she saw him stand there for an hour or so and sign autographs.
"That's when she became a fan. Other than John and Karl [Malone], he was her favorite player."
After Bobbye Sloan's death, Sloan remarried, and his new wife, Tammy, also happens to be a big Barkley fan. So there was another reason to approach Barkley, who was "very gracious" in accepting the job as presenter.
"I didn't know if he'd do it or not," Sloan said.
Along with Stockton and Sloan, the others scheduled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame are Michael Jordan, David Robinson and Vivian Stringer.
Jordan's presenter will be former North Carolina State star David Thompson.
Robinson's presenter will be long-time coach Larry Brown.
Stringer's presenter will be another long-time college coach, John Chaney.
Yahoo! Sports first reported Jordan's selection of Thompson, the high-flying forward who led North Carolina State to the 1974 national championship.
"I got a call from the Hall of Fame and they asked me if I was willing to be a presenter for someone," Thompson told Yahoo! "I said, 'Yeah.' I didn't know who it was. ... They said Michael Jordan. I was like, 'Wow.' He told them that he was a big fan of mine and I was the one that really inspired him. Being that there was so many North Carolina people he could've chose, I was honored."
Thompson grew up in Shelby, N.C. Jordan was just 11 when Thompson led the Wolfpack to their first NCAA championship in 1974. Jordan's boyhood idol, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
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