Former two-time NBA All-Star Jerry Stackhouse grew up idolizing Michael Jordan. Stackhouse, like Jordan, attended the University of North Carolina, and despite his playing a different position than his idol, Stackhouse was compared to Jordan while he was preparing for the NBA.
But in an episode of ESPN’s “The Woj Pod” released Wednesday, the 18-year pro said he wishes he never would have played alongside Jordan with the Wizards in 2002-03, a year that turned out to be Jordan’s final NBA season.
“Honestly, I wish I never played in Washington and for a number of reasons,” Stackhouse said. “I felt we were on our way in Detroit before I got traded there. 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.
“Things were still being run through Michael Jordan,” he continued. “[Head coach] Doug Collins, I love Doug, but I think that was an opportunity for him to make up for some ill moments that they may have had back in Chicago. 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.”
Before the 2002-03 season, the Pistons traded Stackhouse to the Wizards, where he teamed up with Jordan.
The duo averaged 41.5 points per game—21.5 points per game from Stackhouse, 20 from Jordan—but Washington went just 37-45 and failed to qualify for the playoffs. Just two years after the trade, Detroit would win the NBA championship.
The current Vanderbilt coach previously said that playing alongside Jordan was a positive experience overall.
“It was good to have the experience of playing alongside one of your idols, to be able to get the camaraderie,” he told ESPN in 2013. “Nobody has more fun away from the game than Michael Jordan. He has fun. Whether it’s on the plane playing cards or going out to dinner or having fun. I don’t think people realize that about him because they see all the seriousness on the court, but he’s as funny and fun-loving guy as you’re going to see away from the game.”