A little over 20 years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers were in the midst of rebuilding. The team and fans alike had enjoyed the winning ways and legendary players from the not-so-distant past, and wanted to return back to prominence. With the No. 3 overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft, Philly selected Jerry Stackhouse and looked towards him as a main source of scoring and playmaking.
Prior to his arrival, the 76ers had traded away superstar Charles Barkley a few years earlier, and with his basketball pedigree and ability to play above the rim, Stackhouse was the fresh new face that everyone was looking for. With a signature shoe deal from FILA and a 19.2 ppg scoring average during his first season, Philly had their fan favorite, and it quickly became Stack’s home.
Over the brief two-plus years Jerry spent in South Philly, there were memorable moments. For starters, there were widespread rumors that Kobe Bryant was working out with the team in West Philadelphia at St. Joseph’s University.
This was basically unheard of at the time, because even with a father that played in the League, the question remained: How could a high school athlete, compete and or be able to keep up NBA players? By ’95, only Shawn Kemp, and Kevin Garnett had recently made the jump from prep to pros, and they were big men. Bryant was a 16-year-old guard that not only proved he belonged, he was often times heard to be the best option in the gym. Legend in and around the city was that Bryant was taking all bets, and destroying any and all competition.
The other thing that happened during Stackhouse’s time with the 76ers was, simply, Allen Iverson. During their first year together, that backcourt combined for 44.2 points a night. But it wasn’t that easy to coexist with arguably the best under 6-foot guard in the history of the game—especially when he needs the basketball just as much (okay, more) than anyone else on the team.
Halfway into the 1997-98 season Stackhouse was traded to the Pistons for Eric Montross, Theo Ratliff, and Aaron McKie. They became the building blocks for the 2000-01 Eastern Conference Champion 76ers, and Stack emerged as an NBA All-Star that enjoyed a long NBA career.
Jerry Stackhouse is currently an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors. Since Bryant is retiring after an illustrious career, it’s about time Stackhouse set the record straight on what has turned into Philly basketball folklore. Watch in the video above as he answers that, plus talks about what the city means to him, and his future aspirations in the game of basketball.
Anthony Gilbert is a SLAM contributor. Follow him on Twitter.