How Stack Came Back

MIAMI, October 25 -- Jerry Stackhouse was in Fort Lauderdale last week, less than an hour away from AmericanAirlines Arena, waiting patiently for the phone to ring with an opportunity for the 16-year NBA veteran.

He just had to return home to Atlanta to get it.

Once it became clear that swingman Mike Miller’s thumb injury was going to keep him out for a while, it apparently took the Miami HEAT – conveniently in town to play the Hawks Thursday – hours, not days, to contact Stackhouse.

“I got a call Wednesday night saying Mike Miller banged up his hand, ‘Can you come work out Thursday?’

“‘Can I come work out?’ he repeated, incredulous. “I’m like, ‘Yeah. I’m ready to go, I can come work out tonight if you want me to.’”

The reasons were obvious. As Stackhouse puts it, after a lengthy career there are hardly any offensive sets or defensive schemes he hasn’t seen, so any transition period would simply be about learning terminology. And instead of trying to acquire a player as similar to Miller as possible – Stackhouse has shot 34 percent from behind the arc since 06-07, well above his career mark of 30 percent – the found someone with a very specialized skill: Stackhouse has traditionally been one of the best post-up swingmen in the entire league.

“He has an ability to score, we don’t have to teach him how to do that,” Erik Spoelstra said. “He knows how to fit in, he’s played in so many different systems. He was able to pick up things on the fly and a lot of times with other veteran players they’re able to play off each other’s IQ’s.”

“It’s great to add another veteran to the team,” Dwyane Wade said. “It’s someone who last year [with Milwaukee] proved that he could still play his game, it’s a matchup problem for guys in the post as well as he’s now shooting the ball better than he’s shot it in the past.”

It also helped that, having been running with fellow veteran Anthony Johnson, Stackhouse was already in shape, and hardly had a sense of entitlement for a former All-Star.

“The workout took care of itself and then I got a call that said come down and we’ll try to make it happen,” Stackhouse said. “[They said], ‘There could be some nights where you could play and have a huge role, some nights where you may not play.’

“I [said], ‘Well I got plenty of two-piece and three-piece suits if that’s the case.’”

Whatever the case may end up being, what’s important right now is that with just a couple practices under his belt, Stackhouse, who played against Miami in the ’06 NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks, is a welcome, and seamless addition.

“It adds experience to our team and another threat,” LeBron James said. “The more threats you have on the court at the same time, the harder it is to guard. I could see him in a lineup with me and Dwyane at times, and having those threats on the court at the same time can be tough to guard.”

Tough to guard, but for Stackhouse, easy to appreciate.

"I’m excited, obviously,” Stackhouse said. “A week ago I was in a different mind state. Now I’m excited to be back playing basketball, back doing something I love to do, obviously with a great opportunity to do something with a great team and a great group of guys.”