Jerry Stackhouse Laments on Rasheed Wallace Retirement, Preps For Playoffs
Josh Newman , Field Reporter
NEW YORK – By no means is the 1995 NBA Draft held in high regard, but it certainly produced some memorable players inside the top 10 picks, namely University of North Carolina teammates Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace.
After 16 seasons, Wallace, a reserve forward with the Knicks, retired on Wednesday after his comeback from a stress fracture in his left foot did not go as planned on Monday evening in Charlotte.
Stackhouse and Wallace go back to their respective high school days more than 20 years ago. When it comes to talking about the mercurial, often-combustible Wallace, few can provide the insight Stackhouse can.
“Sheed was a great player, but I think he was one of the best players that never really wanted to get noticed for being a great player,” Stackhouse told SNY.tv before the Nets closed the regular season against the Detroit Pistons. “Everybody always looked for him to have that super breakout year, to be a big 20-point guy, but he was somewhat content to be a 15-guy, making sure he got everyone else involved.”
“He was probably unselfish almost to a fault from what where I think his ability could have put him in the history of the game, but that’s who Sheed is. He kind of walked to the beat of his own drum.”
Both players declared for the 1995 NBA Draft after helping lead the Dean Smith-coached Tar Heels to the Final Four. Stackhouse was chosen third overall and Wallace fourth as both have carved out stellar careers. With Wallace retiring, Stackhouse, Kevin Garnett and Kurt Thomas are the only remaining active members of a draft class that included noted NBA busts Ed O’Bannon, Shawn Respert and No. 1 overall pick Joe Smith.
The fact that Stackhouse will be participating in playoff basketball beginning this weekend is a testament to the fact that he has taken care of his body over the course of an 18-year career. Additionally, he alludes to the fact he spent much of January, February and the early portion of March largely out of the rotation and watching.
The result of the decreased playing time after he found the Fountain of Youth in November and December is fresher legs than a normal 38-year old player would have, plus the ability to nurse a few minor injuries and soreness.
Over his last five games, he is averaging 20.3 minutes per game and figures to crack the rotation once the playoffs begin.
“My whole dynamic of how this year unfolded for me could be a blessing in disguise,” Stackhouse said. “I got off to the good start and I gave myself confidence that I could still come out and perform, but at the same time, realizing we had a good team and we could pick our spots with it. If I would’ve played for those two months in the middle of the season, I don’t know how I’d feel right now.”
Stackhouse and Wallace were members of the 1995 draft class. Amazingly, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill, who shared the 1995 Rookie of the Year Award, are both still active and expect to be rotation players for the Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively. Count Stack as one of the elders in the league who expects to do the same. And even on the day where his former mate, Wallace, called it a career, Stackhouse expects to be playing, at least a while longer.
Photo: UNC Basketball
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA