Confessions of an NBA Scoring Champion
SLAM sits down with Jerry Stackhouse.
When we spent a week in North Carolina taking in the Greater NC Pro-Am, we got to provide mad coverage. Aside from two Rucker of the South articles, I scored interviews with John Wall and Kyrie Irving.
Our homie from down south, Mark Caroll, had the Pro-Am finals on lock and killed it with his piece. I personally found the jewel of my time down in sweet Carolina to be my 20-minute conversation with former NBA scoring champion Jerry Stackhouse*. (Note the * because Stackhouse had more total points in ‘00-01 than Allen Iverson, but AI led the League in terms of average.)
I personally vividly remember Stack going baseline and punching on Cherokee Parks and the rest of the Duke team from when I was at the ripe age of 12. I’m not ashamed to admit that I do own an original red 76ers Stackhouse jersey and still have it to this day, but never bought the hype and copped a pair of Filas.
Even though he shot just a hair over 40 percent and wasn’t regarded as the world’s strongest defender, dude put points on the board. Stack boasts an 18.0 ppg average over his career despite back-to-back seasons where he didn’t average double digits. Fifteen-year vet, former scoring champion, been to the Finals, ex-6th Man of the Year. Pretty impressive credentials with some pretty interesting stuff to share.
SLAM chopped it up with Jerry about his involvement in the Greater NC Pro-Am, accepting different roles in the latter stages of his career, playing with both AI and Young Money, and what his next move is.
SLAM: You basically have funded the entire NC Pro-Am, not only financially but with the talent that you bring in. Why is it so important to you to not only keep the Pro-Am going, but keep it free to the public when you could obviously be making some money off of this?
Jerry Stackhouse: Trying to build excitement man. People are looking for something to do. Keep kids off of the street for the summer. Watch really talented players — HS, college, pro — play ball, we’re excited about where we are right now but it’s all about the love of this game. We’ve taken a lot from this game. Been great to me and a bunch of these guys. Chance to see future. The next John Wall might be in this gym.
SLAM: With tonight being Rodney Rogers appreciation night, tell me a little about why you decided to honor Rodney and dedicate this night to him.
JS: Man, there’s not a more beautiful person in the world. Rodney embodies everything that we want this league to be about. For kids that may not have it right away, don’t give up. Rodney had a tragic situation where he could have given up and probably died, but he just kept fighting and fighting and fighting. We wanted these kids to see him share a few words and that might encourage them because even though everything might not be happening like you want it, look at this guy [Rodney]. This guy had everything. He was on top of the world. A former NBA player, retired and enjoying the rest of his life…then he gets in an accident and now he’s paralyzed. Yet throughout all of that, he’s still not worried about himself and is all about helping other people. That’s why we wanted to honor him tonight.
SLAM: Are there any guys here at the Pro-Am who have really caught your eye? Any guys who you were like, ‘Damn, I didn’t realize he was THAT good?’
JS: Man, there are so many guys. The Deloach kid from Norfolk St. (Michael Deloach)…Man, he should’ve been on someone’s summer league team! Game after game you see different guys. The Duke guys with Kyrie Irving and Seth [Curry]. Then you have Harrison Barnes. He’s ready. He’s as good as advertised and will be a major difference maker for UNC this year. Reggie Bullock, now that’s my homeboy, so I’m looking for him to do well too. We’re just constantly going to keep the doors open so we can get guys like John to come back and support the event. It’s great just for these kids to see him here. He wants to play right now, but has a little tendinitis. He wants to be out here and be a part of what’s going on. I’m excited. I can’t be any more proud of what we have here than I am right now.
SLAM: You seem to be a guy who takes on all challenges. Last year, we all saw THE VIDEO of where you stepped up and went against John Wall. Do you plan on lacing them up and going against Harrison this year?
JS: Man, they hit me with a bag of tricks with John! John Wall has seen me play plenty of times. That was my first time seeing him play. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have jumped!
SLAM: So does that mean you’re going to go at Harrison this year?
JS: We’re playing. I’ve been playing against those guys everyday at UNC. It’s not about me here. I mean, once the tournament starts I’ll play. I’ll play on the team with Harrison, Reggie, and those guys. All of the pros will be here then. It’s great because we get a chance to have the younger guys play during the regular season and then when the pros come, it really becomes more of an actual Pro-Am.
SLAM: Now you’re a guy who a number of the younger cats here look up to. Reggie Bullock has told me a number of times some of the things that you’ve shared and even John Wall was just talking about how he looked up to you. An example of the character you’ve shown over the years is your willingness to go from a guy who was the focal point of an offense to completely accepting being a role player off of the bench. Was that transition easy for you, and what do you have to change mentally in order to fully accept a different role like that in the NBA?
JS: It’s just a matter of evolving. You have to listen to your body a little bit. I had some coaches throughout the years who advised me how I may be able to extend my career by accepting a different role. Maybe I could have just said “I want to score 20,000 points. That’s my goal.” That could have easily been accomplished in my mind, but at the same time, I was able to win more. I went to Dallas and was the 6th man on that team. I still felt like a starter, I was treated like a starter, and I was getting 30 minutes [per game]. When you get toward the end of your career, that’s how you extend it. That’s why some guys who I feel could probably play longer don’t, because they never want to accept not being “the guy.” Hopefully, I’ve served as an example to some of the other guys when they get to that point in their career. When you get to 30, they just want to push you over a cliff anyway [laughs]. You’ve gotta find ways to continue to fit in and if you don’t, it’s tough to extend your career.
SLAM: Speaking of guys who aren’t willing to accept that role to extend their career, you may or may not have played with one in Philly [laughs]. Now you’ve played with two of the most explosive, electric young point guards in the League at their respective times in AI and Brandon Jennings. Tell me some of the similarities that those to have at roughly the same age.
JS: Man, there are a lot of similarities. Unbelievable quickness with the ball, ability to finish around the basket, scorer’s mentality, a certain mental toughness and competitiveness about the game. I think Allen is a little more explosive at the same stage in his career. He was a guy that, even though he was 6-0, he could jump two feet above the rim! Brandon can dunk the ball and he has good athleticism, but he doesn’t have THAT sort of athleticism. As far as quickness and guts, he’s right there will Allen Iverson in those departments.
SLAM: What was the proudest moment of your NBA career?
JS: I would have to say going to the Finals. Anybody who has played the game dreams of that experience. Obviously we would have loved to win it, but just getting to the finals and playing in June…it doesn’t get any better than that. Every game, you’re center stage every night. Everybody’s is watching you play and I think that’s the epitome of basketball.
SLAM: Every time I’m chopping it up with people talking about random NBA scoring champions, I throw out your name and people think I’m lying about that season that you had in Detroit. Do you ever feel that you’re one of the more under-appreciated NBA scoring champions?
JS: I can’t worry about it. I haven’t really taken time to take a step back and look at my career because I’m still in the midst of it and trying to play another year. Once that happens, maybe I can look back and say that. I think people appreciate me for what I’ve been able to accomplish and hopefully I can still do it a little bit longer.
SLAM: If you’re still going to do it a little bit longer, what’s the next move for Jerry Stackhouse? What jersey will we see you in this season?
JS: I’m just waiting, man. Everybody is kind of intrigued about the Miami situation and seeing if they’re trying to add another veteran to their team. If that happened, I’d be thrilled to be there. I think that would feel like Hall of Fame accreditation to have a guy like Pat Riley come and ask you to be a part of their team. If it doesn’t happen there, it doesn’t happen there and I’ll just try to do what I can somewhere else.