Part 2: When a Stern Calls
In Part 1 we got to witness how David Stern threw away the Phoenix Suns greatest chance at a title and then destroyed their 7SOL offense putting them into a momentary era of NBA obscurity and damnation all because of some personal feud against Robert Sarver. In Part 2 we will discover how Stern once again destroyed a contending Suns team by deceiving Amar'e Stoudemire into accepting the New York Knicks offer.
After Terry Porter was fired and Gentry was hired the Suns would begin their rise back to NBA exaltation. A few bumps a long the way none the less, but they'd achieve their journey back to the top. With the subtraction of Shaq, the addition of Frye, the emergence of Lopez and Dragic as well as the return and recovering of Amar'e from eye injury (which had nothing to do with David Stern) and the Phoenix Suns to everyone's surprise were a powerhouse once more. Suns fans everywhere were rejoicing, but little did they know that their success would be short lived.
Robin Lopez had finally given the Phoenix Suns a player who could defend the rim and relieve some pressure from Amar'e Stoudemire. As stated by Seth Pollack here, "Since Robin has entered the starting lineup, the Suns have a +3.68 rebound differential which ranks 2nd in the league. That's a swing of +5.98 in rebound differential. THAT'S HUGE!!!" His impact could not be denied. The Suns were on top again and Lopez was the one most responsible. Unfortunately, he would suffer a mysterious injury. One that's cause is still largely unknown by many even till this day. Robin Lopez would suffer from back spasms causing him to miss the rest of the season. He'd never be the same player again. What are the odds that the Suns finally acquire a center who can defend the rim and have such a major impact on his team's rebounding only to go down to a mysterious injury? Seriously, what the crap? Now, I'm not saying David Stern was somehow behind this, I'm just saying.
Anyway, the Phoenix Suns still managed to obtain much success in the playoffs riding off of the momentum obtained when Lopez was still a starter. Even still, his injury was enough to keep them from reaching the 1st seed which may or may have not made the difference against the Lakers in the playoffs. His loss was too much to overcome as the Suns failed to stop the Lakers from scoring inside, thus forcing the team to resort to a zone defense causing many open threes for the men in purple and yellow. We all know how that story ended.
After another crushing defeat for the Suns and another devious victory for David Stern, Robert Sarver would have to face the perils of free agency where his best scorer and arguably best player could possibly leave him forever. Sarve knew the relationship between him and Stoudmire wasn't what you and I would call, "healthy". He knew he couldn't trust Amar'e and he knew Amar'e knew that. What he didn't know is that his rival and arc-nemesis David Stern also knew that.
I can only imagine the conversation between Amare Stoudemire and David Stern on day one of free agency went something like this:
David Stern: Hi Amar'e.
Amar'e: Yes Satan? I mean ah Mr. Stern!
Stern: Just calling to see how you're doing. I like to check on my star players from time to time and just see if they're OK you know? Especially with my free agents around this time of year. I know free agency can be a pain, especially for you. You're a hot commodity you know that?
Amar'e: Oh, well thanks. That is very kind of you. Yeah, free agency isn't all I thought it would be cracked up to be. A lot of stress, a lot of decisions to make....
Stern: I'm listening.
Amar'e: Well, you say I'm a hot commodity, but Sarver just thinks I'm broken goods. I would like a full guaranteed contract and to stay in Phoenix, but I know he won't give me one because he doesn't think I can stay healthy. I know he's going to offer me some contract with incentives and that just screams disrespect to me. I probably shouldn't be telling you this.
Stern: Don't worry, it's not like I'm gonna fine you or something. Listen, I'm not at liberty to say or tell you how to make a decision here because it's not my decision and doing so would be tampering, so I'm not gonna give you any advice on what to do. I will say this though. You have defeated the odds time and time again. No injury can keep you down. That is the truth and nobody can tell you otherwise. If they don't believe in you then that's their problem!
Amar'e: You're right and I know. I am unstoppable. I'm a beast! I'm Stat! I'm Sun Tzu!
Stern: You're the Renaissance Man!
Amar'e: Hey that's good. Can I use that?
Stern: Sure. Listen, if people don't love you enough to ignore your faults then it's probably best if you don't hang around them anymore.
Amar'e: So I shouldn't take Sarv's offer then?
Stern: No, I'm not saying that, I'm just saying.
Amar'e: I want a fully guaranteed contract and I know I deserve it, but to leave all I have in Phoenix with Nash, Gentry, contending for titles and 8 years of great memories would be hard. I'm not sure I can do it.
Stern: Hold on there! Are you saying that you're willing to take less than you deserve to stay with a franchise who doesn't love you nor respect your achievements?
Amar'e: But they do love me...
Stern: Their fans and the media have been doing nothing but criticizing your game since you've entered the league! The same can be said about that notorious windbag and the rest of his front office! I mean they've been trying to run you out of town for the past three years! They don't want to rebuild around you. They don't want you to be their franchise player. If they did they'd give you the contract you so rightfully deserve. You hold the right to the franshiseplayerhood. You hold the birthright. You were here first. Yet, they'd rather give that honor to a man in his late 30's than a man in his prime! They love Steve Nash more than they love you.
Amar'e: I don't know what to say...
Stern: Well I'm right aren't I? Look, nobody believes in you. They think you're overrated. They think you can't be good without Nash. They think Nash made you, lol.
Stern. Listen, it has been proved that Sarver can't give you all you need here, but maybe someone else can? I know New York has a big market and is in desperate need of a franchise player. They could probably give you everything you can possibly dream of. I'm not suggesting you go to New York. In fact, this is just common knowledge. Isn't that what you would want though? To go to a place where people appreciate what you do and are willing to pay you full price for it? Money is the greatest demonstration of love. After all, don't you want to be the man? To prove to everybody that you're as good as you say you are? That you are the man? You are a man aren't you?
Amar'e: Of course I am!
Stern: Then do what you got to do. Just remember, I had absolutely no influence on your decision whatsoever.
Amar'e: I see what you mean. OK, thanks Stern. Hey, why you doing this for me again?
Stern: Let's just say I owe you one. Goodbye Amar'e.
Amar'e: Wait what?