Last April, Jerry Stackhouse beamed with pride in a champagne-soaked shirt as he spoke the the media following the Raptors 905 winning the decisive Game 3 of the G-League Finals. His squad had just capped off a Warriors-like run through the NBA D-League (now the G-League) with a 39-11 regular season record, the best in the league, and a 7-1 run through the playoffs to the championship.
Stackhouse, only four years removed from his NBA playing days, had transitioned from player to Raptors assistant to head coach in the D-League in remarkable time, but he proved in 2016-17 that he was doing so on his own merits and not simply trading on his name recognition.
His journey to the coach’s chair started towards the end of his tenure in Dallas, playing under Avery Johnson who would let Stackhouse sit in on coaches meetings. While Stackhouse would play five more seasons in the NBA — and again briefly under Johnson in 2012-13 in Brooklyn — he had already begun the process of contemplating what his future would be.
Where Stackhouse had an 18-year career, the majority of pro players aren’t so lucky. The average NBA player out of the league in four and a half years, forcing them to consider options after their playing days much sooner than he had to. For those in the NBA, basketball is their life, so naturally there’s an inclination to find a way to stay involved with the game. Some go into the media either locally or nationally, while others look to coaching as the way to keep basketball as part of their life. Transitioning from being a player to a coach isn’t as simple as trading a jersey in for a suit and moving closer to the scorer’s table on the bench, however, as players have to learn to view the game as a coach.