*Start Radio Transmission on [random date] at 8:33:54pm:*
Al McCoy: "Nash at the top of the key - he waits.... he peels his defender off the Amare screen - drives the lane - dishes it to Amare... IT'S WHAMMO TIME FOLKS!!! WHAT A WHAM BAM SLAM BY AMARE STOUDEMIRE!!!"
Tim Kempton: "Wow, amazing execution of the pick and roll that time by Steve and Amare - when those two are on top of their game there's not a defense in the league that can stop that attack. That two-handed jam there for Amare gives him 28 points for the game to go along with his 10 boards - a solid effort by Amare tonight!"
*End Radio Transmission on [same random date] at 8:35:47pm*
*Somewhere in Phoenix Arizona..."
Positive-Pete-the-Suns-Fan: "Man, Amare is a BEAST! He is unstoppable!!"
Does this sound familiar at all? Let me give you a hint... IT SHOULD.
So we all know the story - Amare is on the trading block... again. But this time it feels different, this time it feels real to everybody. Combine that feeling of trade inevitability with the recent struggles of this Suns team in December and January and 'VIOLA"! Planet Orange, we have a SCAPEGOAT.
Or at least from recent comments in trade discussion forums.. that's how it seems. Amare is getting little love from his home-crowd. Only a few renegades choose to defend #1, and I think I've figured out why... so hear me out and let's see what you have to say.
First of all on a personal note - Amare Stoudemire has been one of my favorite players in the NBA since we drafted the kid out of Cypress Creek. I've rooted for him throughout his career thus far and I will continue to do so regardless of the uniform he ends up sporting. But by no means am I blindly biased because of my affinity for the guy - I understand the frustration in Amare for his defensive awareness (PLEASE NOTICE I DID NOT SAY EFFORT) and his more recent turnover problems.
There is no denying the fact that Amare is one of the most explosive and talented players in the league. One of those talents among many is his ability to recover from injury (I'm convinced the guy is related to Wolverine from the X-Men). And throughout his career Amare has taken us on a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs with regards to his health - but his Basketball skills have always either stayed constant or actually increased. Even at the beginning of this year many were praising Amare for his increased defensive abilities - how many charges or good defensive plays has Amare made already this year? The answer is more than it seems like a lot of fans want to believe.
Criticisms of Amare now are more exaggerated now than they've ever been.
Debbie Downer the Wagoneer says: " Amare plays NO DEFENSE, GOOD RIDDENS HE'S LEAVING"
.... Really? No defense? If you can't tell you're exaggerating the truth when you type this with your keyboard...
I don't want to get too much into statistics.. but I will mention this quick comparison of a few career numbers with regards to Amare's defense:
Besides the fact that Amare has better all around numbers than Pau Gasol... what really strikes me as interesting is the fact that his Defensive Player Rating (DRtg) is the exact same as Pau Gasol the mighty mighty Laker... But I keep forgetting... Amare plays no defense right?
THE REAL DEAL
What appears to be occurring is that an Amare shift has taken place in the hearts of the citizens of Planet Orange. I'll make the analogy of a separating couple to make my point. We fell in love with Amare - he was ON FIRE - and he really turned us on - for years he excited us as we witnessed insane Dunks and Alley Oops and Gorilla Game tactics that carpet bombed the hardwood as Amare beasted the floor... and we began expect more and more from the young stud. His amazing talent tantalized us.
Here is the definition of Tantalize;
to torment with, or as if with, the sight of something desired but out of reach; tease by arousing expectations that are repeatedly disappointed.
All too often Amare is bashed for not rebounding in double digits and constantly compared to the likes of... lets see... how about one of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game and who is a shoe into the basketball hall of fame Tim Duncan. Amare is not Tim Duncan. Very few players in HISTORY have averaged double digit rebounds and maintain the scoring ability that Amare brings to the table.
Do you think maybe as fans we were tantalized by Amare's hops - and we started to expect things that were out of reach... and we've been repeatedly disappointed because of it? I THINK SO.
Back to the lovers analogy...
So our expectations haven't been met... and now as lovers we have "The Talk". You know, this is the part where the woman (or sometimes the fruity guy will initiate it) comes forward and asks the question.. "so... WHAT ARE WE". It's a plea for commitment. Conventionally there are two answers to the question:
1) "I love you and we should be together!" [Then you fork over the cash for the wedding (contract).]
2) "... maybe we should see other people for a while..?" [You keep your cash and buy a shiny new XBox and you hide in your room for weeks at a time playing online video games with your nerdy online frien... wait... I'll stop now]
These conventional answers might seem like they fit the mold with STAT - but there is a difference between our situation here with Amare and a real life lovers' talk. In a real life situation "The Talk" usually happens pretty fast and without notice and you are forced to make a 'think quick' decision . Here with Amare - we have had months... check that - years to sit and evaluate our relationship with the ball player - to analyze and nit-pick every little aspect of his game and personality. And as a shadowy feeling of trade inevitability has swept over Planet Orange it all starts to pile up. YOU KNOW WHAT I THINK?
The tantalizing became our only thought and tunnel vision has set in with many fans. We began to focus on only the negative aspects of Amare's game and the disappointments that we've felt - the heart break our lover has caused... and we dwell and dwell and dwell on it until finally.... the shift occurs.
A light goes on the brain that says - "I don't want to deal with this anymore" - and just like that the lover becomes the enemy. It makes the separation that much easier you know? Just turn you emotions around and everything will be fine right? If I hate the guy - it makes it that much easier to erase from my memories and heart the love.
Now, any and everything that happens it seems to be.... HIS/HER fault. You can't find your keys? It's her fault. We can't get our offense into a rhythm? It's his fault. Amare has officially become the scapegoat. He is the reason our team has sucked during December and January and the solution to the problem is to eliminate the source... never mind his great rebounding numbers and his ever steadily creeping scoring numbers. It's HIS fault. Yeah, that's it. Him. The Enemy. He needs to leave now. Trade him for Doritos. He's worthless.
I know it's a little dramatic right? And the analogy isn't perfect - but I think I might be right with many fans.
Amare is an amazing basketball player. Let's not drown his major positives with minor negatives we feel he could change. Regardless of whether or not Amare Stoudemire will remain a Phoenix Sun - he will always be an All-Star and fan favorite of mine.