During the 2002 offseason, Jerry Stackhouse was traded to the Washington Wizards. There weren’t a lot of moments in Wizards history when players were excited about being traded there, but this time was different. Stackhouse got to play with his idol, Michael Jordan.
Yes, it was Wizards MJ and not Bulls MJ – but Stack would still play with the GOAT. In an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski, Stackhouse shared his feeling about the trade, and they’re not very positive. In hindsight, he wishes he stayed in Detroit. The Pistons had a good thing going (which culminated with a Championship in 2004), and Stack missed out on that.
“It was really challenging to be able to be in a situation with an idol who at this particular point, I felt like I was a better player.”Jerry Stackhouse, via The Woj Pod
Still, playing with and learning from MJ is an opportunity no basketball player would miss. Unfortunately, Stack got a front-row seat to the “former superstar syndrome.” A player who’s not as great as he used to be, but still gets that kind of treatment. That can ruin a team in a heartbeat. As Stackhouse sees it, Doug Collins was trying to recreate what he could’ve had with MJ in Chicago, but he didn’t have Chicago MJ.
“So, pretty much everything that Michael wanted to do [we did]. We got off to a pretty good start and he didn’t like the way the offense was running because it was running a little bit more through me. He wanted to get a little more isolations for him on the post, of course, so we had more isolations for him on the post. And it just kind of spiraled in a way that I didn’t enjoy that season at all. The kind of picture I had in my mind of Michael Jordan and the reverence I had for him, I lost a little bit of it during the course of that year.”Jerry Stackhouse, via The Woj Pod
It wasn’t all bad. While it may not have gone perfectly on the court, Stackhouse said it was fun to be around MJ off the court. Even the great Michael Jordan relaxed a bit in his last few NBA years and had a bit of fun.