Jonathan Abrams alert, everybody. Grantland’s superb NBA features writer just dropped another excellent word bomb, this time on the very long careers of Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace. As is the custom, it is recommended that you read the entire thing immediately after enjoying this first delicious taste.
That first Dallas season also featured the defining Jerry Stackhouse, Tough Guy story. It happened after Utah rookie Kirk Snyder took a cheap shot at him under the basket during a game. Stackhouse retaliated with one of his own. Both men thought they were even. Nope. They bumped into each other a few plays later and … well, Stackhouse can explain the rest.
“Boom, he punched me in the stomach with an open fist,” Stackhouse said, incredulously. “I was like, ‘OK, I can go crazy right now and get suspended for two or three games and lose this money.’ The smart side of me said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that. But I’m going to get this boy.’ You don’t put your hands on me. I can deal with a lot of verbal stuff and wolfing and all that, but you put your hands on me, no. And I thought I had cleaned it up, but obviously I hadn’t.”
When the game ended, Stackhouse recalls asking the training staff for a warm-up suit, then waiting on the docks where Utah’s bus would depart. “I ain’t even shower,” Stackhouse recalls. “I put on some sweats, some sneakers, and I went and stood in the tunnel. As soon as [Snyder] came out, I fired on him. I got in a couple. That was it. I don’t know where all these security people came from. It probably lasted 20 seconds. Everybody pulled me off and that was it.”
And that’s how an NBA urban legend is born. Only, in this case, it actually happened: the time Jerry Stackhouse saved a few bucks by beating up Kirk Snyder after a Mavs-Jazz game. They ran into each other again the following year, after Snyder had been traded to New Orleans. Again, he approached Stackhouse in the tunnel. “He started walking to me,” Stackhouse remembers. “I closed my fists, wondering what’s this fool up to, thinking we’re about to go in. He just came in and opened his hand out to me and said, ‘Man, I really needed that.’” Snyder told Stackhouse that he had been struggling to get onto the court and wanted to impress his coach, Jerry Sloan. “I was just like, ‘Damn, next time just get my number. You want to talk to somebody, we can do that without me having to pay a $1,000 fine. But it was the weirdest thing I had ever witnessed. You get into some knuckles with someone and they come back and tell you, ‘I needed that.’”
And that, my friends, is why Jerry Stackhouse topped Tom Ziller’s list of the NBA’s most terrifying men and has beaten up so many people that he has his own top five list. Because he’ll save some money by beating you up after the game, then go out and sing the national anthem. If that happened today, it’d be a 30-game suspension.
Go read this whole thing, for stories like this, Rasheed Wallace warming up in a football helmet and Darvin Ham describing Sheed’s D-League coaching advice as “mental jewels.” It’s pretty much the best, just like having both of these guys in the league. So good.