To any of you that are regular readers of my Detroit Pistons work, the following statement is not hard to believe.
I have been a vocal critic of guard Rodney Stuckey.
I thought he was an underachiever, a malcontent and basically everything that was wrong with organized basketball (and Western civilization).
But a funny thing has happened this year.
The Rodney Stuckey that I loved to hate ceased to be, and a new man has emerged wearing No. 3.
That's right, Stuckey has been a new man, and perhaps the best signing that the Pistons have made in years.
Personally, I have been perplexed as to what has become of our Stuckey.
How did an immature, petulant and somewhat spoiled player that never really accomplished much turn into the mature, low-key and valued veteran?
Well, as it turns out, Stuckey was even braver than any of even his greatest admirers could imagine.
Because Stuckey recognized that he needed help, and he went for it.
In his most recent article, Detroit Free Press Pistons beat writer Vince Ellis sheds some light on Stuckey's metamorphosis. Apparently, Stuckey decided to seek therapy from a Detroit area therapist, and the result has been a new man on and off the court.
For those of us that have friends or family members that have sought help, we know how hard that first step is.
To just say out loud that you need help, and then to take that next step to actually seek out a therapist, make an appointment and keep that appointment is groundbreaking work.
Most human beings are proud, and men are taught from an early age in most communities to never admit to having a problem, and never seek help even if you recognize a problem.
Jeremy O. Morford, a professional therapist, sees this on a regular basis.
"(It) Takes a wise person to seek help. As a therapist myself, I have many who just can't muster up the courage to make the first appointment. Maybe this will help others seek help."
Over the years, the psychological world has seen the negative stigma attached to their work dwindle, and thankfully so.
More and more people are choosing to seek help, and in the process, are able to lead fully and happier lives.
On the court, Stuckey is having easily his best season as a professional.
Scoring has never been a problem for Stuckey, but his efficiency has been. As a result, Stuckey has improved his shooting percentage from the field and from three-point land, and he has cut down his turnovers.
He is making better decisions with the ball, and while getting to the hoop has never been hard for Rodney, he is now doing a better job of finishing.
Most importantly, he has taken on a better leadership role, and has the self confidence to help rookie Brandon Knight to fit into the team.
Most veterans would view the new hotshot rookie as a threat, but Stuckey is embracing him, and the two are quickly forming a great rapport on the court.
For the first time since early in his young career, Stuckey's future with the Pistons is no longer in any doubt, and he is clearly one of the team's foundational pieces.
Now, Stuckey still may never become an All-Star caliber player, but he is becoming one of the most underrated and talented shooting guards in the league, and at 25, he is just entering his prime.
One thing is certain, Stuckey has already cleared perhaps the biggest hurdle of his young life.
And if nothing else, he has gained the respect and admiration of a number of basketball fans.
Even this previous critic.
(The quote attributed to Jeremy O. Morford was obtained first-hand)
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