When I woke up in the morning and checked my schedule, I was surprised to see that the Chicago Bulls had their dentist appointment on the same day as me. The only difference was that my appointment was in Flint in the afternoon at 12:30 p.m., while theirs was in Auburn Hills at 8 p.m.
At my appointment, my dentist was a little over five-feet tall and just a tidbit over 100 pounds with a very noticeable southern accent. As she got started and proceeded to dig into my mouth with her sharp and shiny utensils, she began to go on and on about the dentists down in Auburn Hills who perform their work at the Palace and how disappointed she was in their recent work. All I could pretty much do was listen as she vented her frustration to me.
“I’m starting to not like the Pistons anymore. I’m thinking about finding a new team,” she says. “My son told me I have to stick with them through thick and thin, but I don’t really like them anymore.”
“Why not?” I manage to say, with metal stuck all in my mouth.
“When the Pistons were in their prime, they were like a well-oiled machine, but now they’re out of sync. They’re just out of control,” she says.
I squeeze out one last “Un huh.” I really want to scream because she is destroying my mouth, digging in my gums. I’m tasting the blood.
She proceeds to go on about those dentists for another 10-15 minutes before she’s finally done. I was so happy to leave.
Later in the day, I drove down to watch these dentists that my dentist had dogged out so bad during my appointment. When I checked in, I was surprised that I had a pass waiting for me with my name on it that said SLAM Magazine as the title. They also checked my bag for security purposes—a lot different from the dentist.
After I was cleared to go through into the office, the first dentist I saw was Dr. Allen Iverson. He was in an obvious zone, and he waited for all of the other dentists to surround him in the hallway to do their ritual of taking punches to the stomach before hitting the office. When they were done, I crept into the office right behind them and found my seat which was right behind John Mason and Rick Mahorn again near the center court. I also sat next to Walt Perrin, the Utah Jazz’s Director of Player Personnel who was there scouting some of the young talent.
I was surprised by some of the music being played in the office, like T.I.’s “Swagger Like Us” and Young Jeezy’s “Hustlaz Ambition” because, in my dentist’s office, all they played was Whitney Houston’s Christmas album.
Before they began to operate, I was confused because I couldn’t figure out who the main Dentist would be in the office but when they began to do their work, it became evident very quickly.
He was 6-5, 205 pounds in his second year after learning his craft at Eastern Washington University. His name was Dr. Rodney Stuckey!
7:52 — Dr. Stuckey went into Derrick Rose’s grill for a layup. Mouth!
7:09 — Dr. Stuckey went into Ben Gordon’s grill for another layup. Mouth!
6:47 — Dr. Stuckey went into Gordon’s grill for another driving layup. Mouth!
5:45 — Dr. Stuckey dropped Gordon off with 21-foot jumper. Mouth!
0:34 — Dr. Stuckey goes into Loul Deng’s grill for another driving layup and gets the foul. Mouth!
— Dr. Stuckey also knocks down his two free throws.
— Stuckey finishes the quarter with 11 points with Ben Gordon being his target of interest. Gordon was warned to go home and not eat for 30 minutes as he only needed his teeth cleaned.
5:26 — Dr. Stuckey goes into the grill of Ben Gordon again for a driving layup. Mouth!
3:18 — Dr. Stuckey draws a foul on Ben Gordon and knocks down two free throws. Mouth!
2:29 — Dr. Stuckey makes another driving layup on Ben Gordon and draws the foul but misses the free throw.
— Stuckey finishes the half with 17 points on 7-11 shooting with Ben Gordon being his target of interest yet again after he told him to go home. This time Gordon was diagnosed with a minor cavity so Stuckey had to go into his mouth yet again and give him a filling.
7:18 — Dr. Stuckey goes into the grill of Thabo Sefolosha as he drains a 25-foot 3-pointer. Mouth!
6:37 — Dr. Stuckey goes into the grill of Sefolosha again with a driving layup. Mouth!
5:39 — Dr. Stuckey goes into the grill of Sefolosha for a 7-foot 2-point shot. Mouth!
2:15 — Dr. Stuckey goes into the grill of Joakim Noah for a 20-foot jumper. Mouth!
0:30 — Dr. Stuckey blows by Sefolosha before getting fouled by Lindsey Hunter while finishing with contact. And One and Mouth!
— Dr. Stuckey also knocks down the free throw.
— Stuckey finishes the quarter with 12 points and 29 on the night. His target of interest was Thabo Sefolosha who was also diagnosed with a cavity and was given a filling. Sefolosha was told to go home and get some rest while the others were just told to use more floss.
9:11 — Dr. Stuckey goes into the grill of three of the Bulls as he connects on a layup. Mouth!
7:33 — Dr. Stuckey goes into the grill of Larry Hughes as he drains a 19-foot shot. Mouth!
2:06 — Dr. Stuckey goes into the grill of Tyrus Thomas as he connects on a 21-foot jumper. Mouth!
— Dr. Stuckey then goes on to send home Derrick Rose, and Ben Gordon as they fouled out of the game. He knocks down five free throws in the closing minutes.
— Stuckey finishes the game with 40 points—easily his career-high. He was forced to put in overtime, especially on Ben Gordon, who may have a slight case of halitosis, but at the end he was by far the best dentist in the office.
After he finished, I caught up with Dr. Stuckey’s boss, Michael Curry. He was proud of him and he was not really surprised with the perfect work that he has been doing for the company.
“He struggled at times coming off the bench trying to figure out when to be aggressive and when to get his teammates involved, and that’s just part of his growth process,” Curry says. “He’s doing that now because when you’re on the floor for 35-40 minutes compared to 15-20 minutes, it’s kind of hard to figure out and get into a rhythm but he works on his game every day.
“Most of the time he’s the last guy to leave the court and he comes back at night to get shots, so the kid really wants to be good in this League. As he said, he wants to be an All-Star and he’s working toward that,” Curry adds.
Dr. Stuckey’s work is beginning to spread all over the state, and I am even thinking about visiting him on a more consistent basis. He uses great speed and poise and he doesn’t bore you while you are in his office and he also looks to get better.
“I was just playing my game and being aggressive. I was getting out in transition in the first half and I got some easy baskets, got to the free throw line, and that just got me going,” Stuckey says. “I just got to keep getting better, I had a good game tonight but I got a lot more games to be played so I got to get better.”
With Christmas being right around the corner, Dr. Stuckey will have the next couple of days off to relax.
“My family’s coming, and I’m taking those two days off to just chill,” Stuckey adds. “My mom is up here so we’re just going to be chilling at the crib and hopefully this snow goes away.”
He will be right back in the office on Friday, but patients better make their appointments early because the Oklahoma City Thunder is already booked for their appointment which is at 8 p.m.