It would not be a stretch to say that everyone in the basketball universe knows how skilled Jerry Stackhouse is on the basketball court.
But did you know that he has more haircutting skills than Floyd the Barber? Well, not exactly "haircutting" skill; more like “taking-a-razor-to-it” skills.
He, in fact, has so much talent that after a recent Mavericks practice he shaved his own head. Vectoring with the help of a hand mirror and the vanity reflection, he shaved his own head as smooth as the chrome bumper on his Bentley.
Stackhouse on his shaving ability: “I got skills. It takes awhile to get it done, but I really needed to clean it up. I actually would like to open a shop someday. I think it could really work!”
Back to Back
The 82-game NBA regular season normally starts near the first of November and runs through the second week of the following April. Squeezing 82 games for 30 teams into five-and-a-half months creates a scheduling phenomenon known as the “Back-to-Back.”
There are mixed feelings when it comes to deciding if back-to-back games effects the way a team can perform. Logistically, the back-to-back is unavoidable and seen as a cost of doing business from the league’s point of view, and it is seen in many different ways from the people most affected by them – team personnel and players.
Technically, the back-to-back comes in four varieties: 1) Home-Away 2) Away-Home 3) Away-Away and 4) Home-Home. The first three varieties are the most common, with the fourth occurring about as often as an Erick Dampier three point jumper.
Eighteen out of twenty nine NBA arenas are basketball-only buildings. The Los Angeles teams (Lakers and Clippers) play in the same building, which means there is one less building than there are teams. Basketball-only buildings make it possible for teams to be more creative and flexible with dates as they are not competing with a hockey team for dates. Even with this flexibility the complicated scheduling process is only solved with the concept of the back-to-back.
This season the Mavericks have back-to-back games 16 times. Keith Grant gave me these numbers in his office before the Cavaliers game earlier this week. Grant’s desktop paper schedule looks like Egyptian Hieroglyphics already at this early point in the season. He has scratch mark analyses on it five ways to Sunday. The specifics of these analyses as it pertains to this season’s Mavericks back-to-backs are broken down as follows: (5) Home-Away, (6) Away-Away, and (5) Away-Home.
Rick Carlisle, who comes from an Eastern Conference team has been accustomed to having back-to-back games in mid 20’s, states that “16 back-to-back games is not a lot at all. It’s a good thing.”
Don Kalkstein: “Well there are so many variables with back-to-backs. I don’t really think that they are a bad thing themselves. But when you throw in the travel, the team’s play in general, and the opponent’s current play it gets really complicated. I am not trying to be coy; I am just saying that it isn’t an easy answer.”
Grant adds that he thinks that the Away-Home back-to-back is probably the toughest because it has the least natural game day feel compared to the others. “There usually isn’t a shoot around on the second day of the away-home back-to-back. So when we are on the road, we at least have a team breakfast or some type of meeting. When you are home there isn’t any gathering at all. We are all creatures of habit and the players are trained to have something that morning. And when you don’t, I think it throws a wrench into the routine. But hey, that is just my opinion. Ask someone else and they will probably tell you something different.”
Dirk Nowitzki says, “I don’t have any problems with back-to-back games, especially this year, because I am only playing 30 minutes a game.”
Casey Smith, the Mavericks trainer states, “It is a problem if you make it a problem. A player can get used to anything, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Exactly, and considering the NBA schedule is not getting any shorter and the yearly calendar is not expanding anytime soon, only two words come to mind: “PLAY BALL!”
Oddly, and an interesting twist to the back-to-back phenomenon happened during opening week this season. The Lakers opened their season at home against the Portland Trailblazers, then played the next night an away game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers and the Clippers both happen to be tenants of The Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The only difference on each night would be which floor the building had to construct for that night’s game.
Longtime NBA play-by-play announcer and former Mavericks play-by-play announcer Jim Durham has been quoted as saying “The best NBA schedule would be 82 games in 82 consecutive nights!”
Now that would be one heck of a back-to-back.