Michael Jordan is well known to basketball fans and much of the general public for having been a member of the Chicago Bulls. However, some may forget that he ended his career playing for a different NBA club – the Washington Wizards. It was there that His Airness competed alongside the likes of Tyronn Lue, Christian Laettner and Richard “Rip” Hamilton. Also joining Jordan in the nation’s capital was Jerry Stackhouse, who was a veteran player as well at that point. The former shooting guard recently opened up about playing with Jordan on the team, and it sounds like he has somewhat complicated feelings about it.
Jerry Stackhouse was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1995 but eventually made a name for himself as an effective baller while hooping for the Detroit Pistons for four seasons. It was his performance for that team that seemingly inspired Michael Jordan to get Wizards management to trade for Stackhouse in 2002. The two-time all star discussed his experiences with former Washington alum Gilbert Arenas on the latter’s No Chill podcast. When the conversation turned to playing with MJ, Stackhouse said he had a good off-court relationship with the man, even though he says the press tried to pit them against each other. Still, Stackhouse did question the notion of going to the team and being Jordan’s number-two guy:
I thought he was bringing me there to lead, but he was bringing me there to kind of be a sidekick for, you know, for him. And then I’m like, we just kicked y’all ass last year when I was in Detroit, you know, just kicked y’all ass. So why would I want to leave Detroit to come here and play second fiddle? ... It wasn’t nothing personal. Again, Michael and I, we went to dinner, we had a great time away from basketball. But where I was in the prime of my career. Again, coming to a team that’s talking about trying to make the playoffs and him probably only playing another year or so, just didn’t… [it] wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.
The player-turned-coach went on to explain how he and Michael Jordan got off to a solid start but also how the latter wasn’t a fan of how the ball was being moved around. Jerry Stackhouse also mentioned that Jordan found favor with Doug Collins, who’d coached him when he was a young player for the Bulls years earlier. When talking about Jordan’s mentality and reasoning for bringing him on board, Stackhouse had the following to say:
He was ready to win now, he wanted to win now. Probably Rip shouldn’t have left there. Rip had played well, he was a young guy in Washington that they could have built around. But MJ was like, ‘Nah, I need an older guy to come in and help me get this done now. My window is closed.’ And I just kind of got called in that mix, and it is what it is.
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All in all though, the veteran athlete and sportscaster doesn’t seem to be bitter about how everything shook out. I still can’t help but wonder what kind of trajectory his later career might’ve taken had he remained in Detroit, though. Aside from that, I can also understand his comments about playing “second fiddle” to “Black Cat” and how that can be a complex situation for a player. There’s another person who would know all about being in that very position.
Scottie Pippen was essentially second-in-command amongst players while paired with Michael Jordan on the Bulls and, these days, it sounds like he holds a bit of resentment there. In 2021, Pippen didn’t hold back when talking about The Last Dance docuseries, which he was unhappy with. He accused Michael Jordan, who had creative control, of using it to elevate himself and didn’t give others due credit. Pippen has been trying to get across the argument that he’s just as “great” as Jordan, and the two reportedly haven’t spoken in the past few years. (Though Dennis Rodman thinks they’ll squash the beef.)
Public opinion on Michael Jordan definitely varies, and that holds true when it comes to his former on-court cohorts. Some have chastised him for his practice methods and mentality, while others have commended him for his competitive spirit and even his tendency to text teammates back. When it comes to Jerry Stackhouse, we can surmise that he has respect for Jordan and appreciates part of their time as colleagues – even if it all didn’t quite turn out as hoped for.
One can get insight into the Air Jordan’s mentality by checking out The Last Dance, as it’s currently available for Netflix subscription holders.