Originally posted on NBAWire.com
When Montana State Woman’s Basketball coach Tricia Binford called me back Tuesday, it took about a half-a-second for my first question to pour out of my mouth. “Sounds like you just made the hire of your life!?” “Ya think!?” shot back MSU’s winningest and longest-tenured woman’s coach in school history. “It’s absolutely incredible” Binford continued, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and the girls to learn from one of the greatest players of alltime.”
THIS is the world famous John Stockton’s entry into the major college coaching community? Yes M’am. That’s about what the NBA’s Alltime leader in Assists and Steals told Tricia Binford when she asked John Stockton if he’d consider joining the Bobcats coaching staff since they’d just lost an assistant coach two days before. “Coach Binford called and presented an opportunity I hadn’t expected. My first thought was ‘well there’s just no time’, you’re busier than you think in retirement cause there’s no shutoff, there’s just no way but then as we talked and talked and talked it felt like I wanted to take a serious look at it. I’m excited about the prospect of working with the kids.
While the move is certainly a stunner to the rest of the free world, to John Stockton, Coach Binford and the Montana State basketball community, this is really a no-brainer. Stockton’s daughter Lindsay is a senior on the Montana State team. “The convincing factor” John declared at a press conference at Montana State on Tuesday “was my daughter Lindsay. It’s an opportunity for me to be around my daughter, we’ve had some great times around basketball. This is an opportunity most dad’s don’t get and Coach Binford provided it!”
After retiring in 2003, the legendary Utah Jazz point guard’s been coaching his kids in leagues and AAU events for years back in Spokane Washington, where he grew up and starred at Gonzaga University. As Lindsay’s career evolved at Montana State, now about to tip off her senior year in Bozeman, John’s grown to know many of her Bobcats teammates. Lindsay and 3 other Bobcats played for John at either at Gonzaga Prep or on an AAU team out of Spokane. “Love those girls, they’re great girls, they’re going to work hard, they’re good players and I don’t feel like a stranger, the girls know me, they’ve all been over to my house.”
Coach Binford and her newest, most famous (by a far-mile) hire still have serious spacing issues to resolve . Like, Stockton will stay in Spokane and merely compartmentalize being Dad to younger children, keeping up on his business projects and fly back and forth to Bozeman. No biggie says John, he once coached 7 different teams…at the same time!
What does one of the toughest, most talented, creative and competitive point guards in NBA history have to offer this very successful women’s program?
Stock was scratching his head, “Certainly a sounding board for Coach Binford, we’re really of the same nature, we love to talk basketball.” Then when pressed about how he could best affect his new team, what specifically he can do to help these Bobcat girls grow, Coach Stock quoted from his roundball gospel. “Doing things right. When you do things right habitually those victories tend to show up. That’s what I think I can bring to this group. I intend to help them celebrate those small things that help teams win.”
If you think this one year commitment to Tricia Binford and her Montana State’s Women’s Basketball program means Coach Stockton’s back in the public eye, you don’t know Stock! “Ah, I think this is IT” Stock robustly declared sitting alone at his press conference table. “After that I’m an assistant coach, I don’t think there are a lot of press things, I don’t intend on being a press star, never have. I’ll just go on, take care of my business, try to be as good a sounding board as I can be for Coach Binford and stay pretty businesslike.”
John’s new boss, MSU’s Head coach Tricia Binford’s known the Stockton family for a longtime and has Utah connections. She played for the WNBA’s Utah Starzz where she first met a Stockton. John’s sister Leanne was a trainer for the Starzz. Binford also had a role in rebuilding the Utah State women’s basketball program, coming on as an assistant coach. She first met John when recruiting Lindsay to Montana State.
You can get to know Coach Binford and hear her tell this amazing story with more details Wednesday morning on ESPN700 Radio. Binford will be my guest on “TK in the Midday” airing from 11am to 1pm MT. We expect Coach Binford to join us at 11:35MT If you miss it, you can always hear the show on podcast at our website ESPN700sports.com
FYI–MONTANA STATE’S ONLY JOURNEY DOWN INTO UTAH COMES AT SOUTHERN UTAH ON FEBRUARY 13, 2016