TREVISO, Italy — He never imagined this, and not just the part about coaching a group of high schoolers from the United States against France’s under-20 national team Saturday afternoon as part of the adidas Eurocamp international scouting bonanza.
Coaching anybody anywhere. Jerry Stackhouse never envisioned the role as his 18-year NBA career in eight cities, complete with two All-Star appearances as a Piston, was winding down. Broadcasting, maybe. But not this.
“And then I was watching my kid playing on the eighth-grade team,” he said. “The guy was just rolling the ball out there with them and (the players were) not really learning. That spurred me to get into it. I love it. Those last three or four years that I played, I felt like my role, as soon as the season was over, I was headed to the AAU circuit.”
Which eventually brought him here, about 20 miles north of Venice, for three games in three days with a roster of elite college prospects from around the United States, starting with a 77-67 loss to the more-experienced French club at La Ghirada Sports Complex. Which could quickly get him back to the NBA.
Stackhouse said he talked with the Hawks last summer, soon after retiring, about staying in his adopted hometown as a player-development coach and that he met with new president Phil Jackson about a role with the Knicks in 2014-15. While staff decisions in New York are essentially on hold until a head coach is hired, the sense from Stackhouse’s side is that “there could be some realistic possibilities coming in.”
“I enjoyed this year, just doing some broadcasting, doing radio and still being able to build what I want to do from a basketball standpoint coaching wise,” he said. “But I think I’m ready. When you look at the guys that had completely no experience, like Jason (Kidd) last year and his success, I think that’s what it’s going to. It’s going to coaches that can really understand these players now. That’s the key.”
He calls the former players who became head coaches with zero bench experience — Doc Rivers, Mark Jackson, Kidd — the blueprint. There are differences, though, some in Stackhouse’s favor. He is looking at being hired as an assistant, a much easier bridge to cross than directly to the No. 1 chair. On the other hand, while Kidd immediately went from player to head coach, Rivers and Jackson had time away and did not face the possibility of having to coach contemporaries.
“I feel like I’m going to bring the same energy,” Stackhouse said. “The thing about it is, the fact that my career playing allowed me to sit in every seat, from a star player to the 15th guy on the team. I didn’t look at myself that way as a player. I felt like I could still compete and even in my last year in Brooklyn, I was able to be a part of what’s going on. But now I can understand the dynamic for everybody that I coach — as a sixth man, everything, you’ve got to try to include them. You’ve got to bring ‘em in and reel ‘em in and let them know that they’re an essential part of what’s going on. I think I can better force that than anybody because I’ve sat in all those seats.”
As a player, at least. Now he is trying for a new spot in the NBA.