Jerry Stackhouse Talks Teaming Up with Michael Jordan, 'It was Challenging Being with an Idol'
When Jordan came out of retirement wearing the "45," many fans felt like it would be the return of the 90's Bulls' Jordan, but his performance wasn't quite as one would hope to remember. He wasn't horrible, but when Jordan's legacy is discussed, it's not often his time with the Wizards is mentioned.
Like most of us, Jerry Stackhouse idolized Michael Jordan. Both are from North Carolina (to you people who claim Jordan's from New York, no.) and both attended the University of North Carolina. Some even called Stackhouse the second coming of Jordan. During Stackhouse's NBA rookie year, he mentioned that 'nobody could step to him one-on-one' it just so happened that people paired it with Jordan's name,
"I heard on CNN that somebody said I made a quote that said I could beat [Jordan] one-on-one," said Stackhouse. "It's not that I didn't say it, I'm not going to back down, either. I think I might've said I didn't feel anybody could stop me one-on-one. Next thing I know, it's Jordan, it's Chicago."
Jordan had an answer for that. When the Bulls played the Sixers January 13, 1996, Jordan dropped 48 on the Sixers and rookie, Stackhouse, had 13. Afterward, Jordan said,
"Michael Jordan didn't teach a lesson tonight; basketball taught a lesson tonight."
As you can see, the rivalry between the two runs deep. From late-night pick-ups in Chapel Hill to Stackhouse joining the Washington Wizards in 2002, the Stackhouse vs. Jordan competition is a long tradition.
During his recent visit to the WOJ Podcast, Stackhouse made some revelations about his time with Jordan during their time in Washington and stated that while overall he enjoyed being teamed up with the legend, it did have its downfalls,
"Honestly, I wish I never played in Washington and for a number of reasons. I felt we were on our way in Detroit before I got traded there. It was really challenging to be able to be in a situation with an idol who at this particular point, I felt like I was a better player. Things were still being run through Michael Jordan," [Head coach] Doug Collins, I love Doug, but I think that was an opportunity for him to make up for some ill moments that they may have had back in Chicago."
"So, pretty much everything that Michael wanted to do [we did]. We got off to a pretty good start, and he didn't like the way the offense was running because it was running a little bit more through me. He wanted to get a little more isolations for him on the post, of course, so we had more isolations for him on the post. And it just kind of spiraled in a way that I didn't enjoy that season at all. The kind of picture I had in my mind of Michael Jordan and the reverence I had for him, I lost a little bit of it during the course of that year."
Playing with someone you look up to verses against them are two different experiences, especially when it comes to someone of a Jordan or LeBron James stature; and even then, sometimes, its best to never meet your heroes. Most coaches want to appease their star player and often overlook the needs and concerns of the team. Unfortunately, it's happened far too often in professional sports. Just the name of the game.
Stackhouse's 18-year legacy has landed him as the head coach at Vanderbilt. The Kinston hero has been coaching since 2015.