Amar'e got a lot of press a few weeks ago for saying he wanted to be the man in Pheonix; hoops commentators like the Chuckster and Kenny on TNT wryly commented that he needed to stop talking about it and start doing it, that he needed to control the game in more ways than dunking on people's heads and nailing the J, etc.
Amar'e responded by playing better D, grabbing more boards, and looking like a much more rounded player.
in the last two games facing both the mighty Spurs and the lowly Thunder, coach TP has given Amar'e a chance to put his money where his mouth is, essentially saying "ok, it's clutch time in the fourth quarter Amar'e, go be the man".
We all know the result against the Spurs: three straight possesions where Amar'e was bested by the shut down defense of five-foul-plagued Timmy.
Maybe TP was hoping to give Amar'e a chance to grow into the clutch time go to guy that he has the talent to be. But would Suns fans have ended up with a merrier Christmas if we had chosen to move those three crunch time possesions through Shaq instead of Amar'e? Could we have gotten Bonner and Timmy to switch? Was it more important to try to foul out Timmy than to put points up?
Then last night against the thunder, TP gave Amar'e another shot. Unfortunatley, Jeff Green's athleticism got the better of Amar'e and his three possesions in "da man" probation time netted him one highlight reel Amaredunk, but also two turnovers, including his sixth foul.
Once Amar'e had fouled out, the Suns went into the diesel, and the game quickly calmed down. Deisel played extremely well, consistently scoring or making good veteran plays involving the rest of the team.
And so I have to ask the question: who should be da man on the Suns? Amar'e, the highlight reel sensation who two games in a row has failed to deliver when called upon, or the Diesel, the proven veteran who consistently makes opponents' defenses pay?
My hope is that, just like Amar'e stepped it up on D and rebounds when he was called out, that his clutch time fizzles in the last two games will inspire him to step up in this area. Hopefully this is another step in Amare's steady rise to being the first teamer he has the talent to be.
But I'm an optimist.