Running with the best isn't all it's cracked up to be, according to former NBA All-Star Jerry Stackhouse.
The 18-year veteran turned college basketball coach opened up about his experience playing alongside league icon and fellow University of North Carolina product Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards for one season in the early 2000s.
Stackhouse was a seven-year pro and two-time All-Star when the Wiz acquired him in a swap with the Pistons prior to 2002-03, but the thrill of teaming up with Jordan, one of his heroes, quickly fizzled when he realized MJ's game had deteriorated.
"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," Stackhouse said Wednesday on the Woj Pod with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Jordan's outsize influence on the team was ill-timed for Stackhouse, then a veteran in the prime of his career, he said. His Airness averaged over 20 points per game in his final two seasons, but age and rust had stripped him of his efficiency as an offensive player.
"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."
Stackhouse, now the head coach of Vanderbilt, hinted that Jordan, despite his declining game, used his stature to demand more touches -- at Stackhouse's expense.
"Things were still being run through Michael Jordan," Stackhouse said. ... "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."
Washington finished 37-45 in 2002-03, and out of the playoffs. Jordan retired -- again, for the third and final time. Stackhouse remained with the Wizards for one injury-shortened season before moving on to the Dallas Mavericks in 2004-05.
Apparently it's not one of Stackhouse's fonder memories from his long and stellar career.
"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."