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Lingering foot pain has limited the 34-year-old veteran to just 10 games and a mediocre 4.2 points per game this year, leading to speculation that his career could be over. If he has indeed played his last NBA game, Jerry Stackhouse will go down as one of the more underappreciated players of this era, plus he had one of the best names in basketball history.
A pure scorer who made a living at getting to the free-throw line, Jerry entered the NBA as your typical overhyped Carolina product. Drafted 3rd overall in 1995 by the Philadelphia 76ers, he was unfairly hyped as the next Michael Jordan. Though he didn't come close to meeting those expectations, he had a very solid rookie season, averaging 19.2 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game. That offseason, however, the Sixers drafted Allen Iverson, and there proved not to be enough room in the backcourt for both scoring stars. Stackhouse, in turn, would be traded to the Detroit Pistons early in his third season in exchange for Theo Ratliff.
In Detroit, they already had Grant Hill and Joe Dumars at the wing positions, so Stackhouse had to settle for a reserve role. After Dumars retired in 1999, Stackhouse took over as the Detroit's starting SG for the 99-00 season. He did not disappoint, averaging 23.6 points per game as the Pistons squeaked into the Playoffs. Grant Hill left as a free agent that offseason, and Stackhouse would finally get his opportunity to be a team's #1 option.
That next season, he displayed such indiviual success that has never been seen before in the history of Detroit basketball. On April 3, 2001, Stackhouse scored a career-high 57 points in a win over the Chicago Bulls, and in a game against my Indiana Pacers, he scored 40 of his team's 73 points on 14-for-28 shooting in an 82-73 loss. For the 00-01 season alone, Stackhouse scored at least 40 points eight times and averages a Pistons frachise record 29.8 points per game, also good for second in the NBA. As a group, however, the Pistons struggled, winning just 32 games.
Changes would be made. During the 2001 offseason, the team signed Clifford Robinson away from the Phoenix Suns for scoring help and hired Rick Carlisle as head coach. Carlisle immediately sat down with Stackhouse and told him that in order for the team to be successful, he needed to be more of a leader rather than just a scorer. As a result, Stackhouse recorded double-digit assist five times during the 01-02 season and averaged 21.4 points per game. Detroit won 50 games, Carlisle won Coach of the Year, and Stackhouse finished 4th in the Most Improved Player voting.
After the Boston Celtics eliminated the Pistons in 5 games in the 2nd round, a series in which Stackhouse shot just 32% from the field, GM Joe Dumars questioned if he was the player they wanted to build around, as Stackhouse was due to be a free agent in 2003. In a gutsy move, Dumars sent Stackhouse to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Rip Hamilton and a couple of throw-ins just before the 02-03 season started.
In Washington, Stackhouse would team up with a 40-year-old Michael Jordan. Jerry actually had one of the best seasons of his career in 02-03, averaging 21.5 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game, yet despite the fact that Stackhouse led the Wiz in every major category, Jordan was getting all the credit, mainly because his name was "Michael Jordan", and Stackhouse would be snubbed from the All-Star team.
After Jordan retired for the third time in 2003, Stackhouse appeared to once again be the main guy. However, the Wizards had signed Gilbert Arenas to be its player of the future, and Stackhouse was criticized for believing the team should be built around him. The timing could not have been worse for Stack, as a knee injury limited him to just 20 games and 13.9 points per game in 03-04. Stackhouse would be traded yet again in 2004, this time to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Antawn Jamison.
Eager to prove his doubters wrong, Stackhouse accepted his 6th man role with the Mavs and averaged an impressive 14.9 points per game off the bench in 04-05, as the Mavs won 58 games. The following season, Dallas advanced to the NBA Finals. It's easy to argue that the NBA robbed Stackhouse of a ring when they suspended him for Game 5 after committing a hard foul on one of Stern's golden boys, Shaquille O'Neal. The Mavs would proceed to lose the game, and the series to the Miami Heat in 6.
Stackhouse would bounce back from his NBA Finals disappointment in 2006 to shoot a career-high 38.3 percent from 3-point range in 2007, only to see his team lose in the first round to the Golden State Warriors in one of the greatest upsets in NBA history. In this 08-09 season to forget for Stackhouse, he did have his brief moments, scoring 17 off the bench against the Lakers and 10 against the Clippers.
If this is the end of his career, he leaves the game with 15,749 career points, averages of 18.4 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.4 rebounds, and two All-Star appearances (2000 and 2001). A solid NBA career indeed.
Posted on: November 29, 2008 11:20 am
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