As he sat at his locker, with a bag of ice on each knee, it was easy to see why Jerry Stackhouse is so well liked and respected.
Now playing for the Miami Heat, his sixth NBA stop in 16 seasons, the 35-year-old is having fun again.
“At any given moment, you could see a highlight or you could see something that people pay to see,” Stackhouse said after his Heat beat the Sixers, 97-87.
It wasn’t that long ago that Stackhouse was stuck in mediocrity, the face of a losing franchise after the Sixers drafted him third overall in 1995. Stackhouse averaged 19.2 points his rookie season and scored 27 points in his debut, a game the Sixers won 105-103.
“We won my very first game at the Spec [Spectrum] and I thought it was going to be all gravy, and we wound up winning 18 games,” he said.
Stackhouse must have had a few flashbacks Wednesday, as the Sixers’ newest toy, Evan Turner, scored 16 in his debut.
“I think Evan Turner showed that he has some tools, and if he continues to work, he has a chance to be a special player,” he said.
Stackhouse blamed instability for the Sixers’ lack of success during his tenure, as the team burned through two coaches and an entire roster. Stackhouse said none of the guys he played with his rookie season were in the NBA two years later.
“I expected to win, looking back on it, and seeing the revolving door of guys, how could I realistically expect [to win?],” Stackhouse said. “It was probably just being young and thinking that the success and winning I had done everywhere else — in college, in high school — would just automatically transfer over.”
It didn’t. But Stackhouse sees good things on the horizon for the Sixers. Especially Turner, who doesn’t have the same pressure that Stackhouse faced in 1995.
“I don’t think it’s on his shoulders to turn it around,” Stackhouse said. “If it was a team that was really expected to be a contender, it would end up being tough.”