Best of the Best

Stackhouse recalls top-tier teammates, opponents from NBA career

by Zac Ellis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – New Vanderbilt men’s basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse played 970 games for eight teams during an 18-year NBA career. Along the way, Stackhouse teamed up with – and faced off against – the best of the best in professional basketball.

Who stood out during Stackhouse’s career in the NBA? Unsurprisingly, Michael Jordan is the first name Stackhouse mentions when discussing his toughest opponents.

“The hype was real,” Stackhouse said of Jordan.

Stackhouse also recalls facing off against Latrell Sprewell, a four-time NBA All-Star, and Mitch Richmond, a six-time All-Star and one-time NBA champion. “Those are guys I look at who could do everything I could do,” Stackhouse said. “They could post up, they could shoot, and it was tough competitively.”

But Stackhouse, a former shooting guard in the NBA, is quick to point out the depth of talent at the two-guard position during his career. He rattles off a list of names that becomes a who’s-who of All-Stars and NBA champions. Plus, Stackhouse added that many of those names brought size (6-4 to 6-6) to the position.

“Eddie Jones. Allan Houston. Ray Allen. Jeff Hornacek. Steve Smith. Nick Anderson. Every night at the 2, you had to battle,” Stackhouse said. “It’s amazing how they’re starting some of these 6-1 and 6-2 guards today. The game has changed so much.”

Stackhouse did not just play against talented opponents in the NBA. He also teamed up with a number of All-Stars, as well. Stackhouse recalls playing with Ben Wallace, the 6-9 center with the Detroit Pistons. Wallace was one of the best rebounders in NBA history; he averaged a career-high 15.4 boards per game during the 2002-03 season with the Pistons.

“Ben Wallace, to me, was the ultimate teammate,” Stackhouse said. “With Ben, I was the primary scorer, and he’d get all the rebounds. I’d have gotten more rebounds if it wasn’t for Ben. He’d get the rebound, then boom, he’d get me the ball.”

Stackhouse called recently retired Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki “one of my favorites to play with.” He praised his former Atlanta Hawks teammate, Joe Johnson, as “a big guard who could shoot it and post up, had a great handle.”

From a teammate perspective, Adrian Griffin played with Stackhouse with the Dallas Mavericks and continually surprised the latter with his team-first attitude.

“He started and I was the sixth man,” Stackhouse said. “I’d never seen somebody so happy to come out of the game and let you come in. Griff was unbelievable.”

In the latter years of Stackhouse’s playing career, he enjoyed a short stint with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat. A veteran by that point, Stackhouse recalls offering tips to James and Wade on playing in the post. The duo later offered a shout-out to Stackhouse’s advice in an interview, which brought a smile to his face.

“That was worth being there just for that time, just knowing those guys appreciated what I brought to the table,” he said.