This is an odd one. Though he doesn't play that often, 17-year NBA veteran Jerry Stackhouse currently plays for the Atlanta Hawks, a team that will attempt on Friday night to win back the home-court advantage in its tied series with the Boston Celtics. A playoff series, mind you. Still active with the Hawks. Still of the ability to beat the Celtics in the first round, perhaps the Bulls or Sixers in the next round, and possibly the Miami Heat after that. Then, if all goes swimmingly with the Hawks and Al Horford returns to the lineup, a Finals victory. Championship, Hawks! Could totally happen.
So why, on his personal website, is Jerry Stackhouse putting on his commentator's blazer to point out that the Heat are probably going to win the title this season? Stack, who worked as an analyst for NBA TV last season in between gigs as an active player, had this to say on JerryStackhouse.com (via TBJ):
I am clearly planning for Atlanta to be in the Finals — if I put on my analyst hat, however, if we are looking at the personnel and everything that's going on during these playoffs, I have to take Miami to win it all. Miami is the favorite to come out of the East, and I'm not counting out the Lakers in the West the way Ramon Sessions and Kobe Bryant are playing.
There's no way around that, Stack is being completely and utterly honest in his assessment. "Looking at the personnel and everything that's going on during these playoffs" is what all of us do, as fans or analysts. Except that, unlike Jerry, we aren't amongst the 205 or so NBA players that are active in these playoffs, not counting the Miami Heat's roster members.
Stackhouse's comments don't have much precedent, but then again there's not much precedence for Stack. Rare is the NBA player that goes from TV talking head to back into the league; save for Tim Hardaway's brief 2002-03 stint on ESPN. The difference is that nobody had any clue what Timbo was saying during his time on set (he could have been espousing theories on the Illuminati, for all we could discern), while Stack was a reasonable and fair analyst during his 2010-11 run.
And Jerry's comments in his post, written down toward the bottom of an actual column, are pretty spot on. The whole column, in fact, is quite good. The guy can write, he still digs the game, and obviously he knows the game in a way that just about all of us not included in those 220 active players (we're including the Heat players, this time around) can understand. In it, Stackhouse delves into each series, the league's spate of injuries, and his role as a veteran adviser on a young-ish Hawks team. Seriously, give it a read.
As far as Stackhouse's comments on the Hawks? Well, they're sort of anti-bulletin board material, eh?
He's not tanking nor at odds with his team, but he's not exactly inspiring them to bigger and better things as some wake-up call for a Hawks team that could technically still win an NBA title this year. Jerry hasn't played in any of the playoff games so far this postseason, and he's not likely to unless there's a blowout in hand — Stack was on the floor for just six games in April playing in mostly mop-up duty, shooting 7-20 (35 percent) from the floor.
It's just blatant … honesty.
And it's hard to read too far in one particular direction. The Hawks have long been criticized as a bit of a ho-hum outfit both on and off the court, so it's possible that Stack's comments (in a column from Thursday morning, it should be noted) might not reach them, and they most certainly won't affect the team's play. So they read exactly as written — a guy that loves to dish on the NBA, that just happens to be playing in the NBA, assuming that one of the best teams in the NBA will win the title this year, even though they may have to go through the NBA team that the NBA player plays for on their way to the NBA Finals.
That's the NBA for you. A league that Jerry Stackhouse will no doubt find gainful employment in commenting on for years to come.
Just as soon as the Hawks win the title, of course.
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