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Broken Pieces: Thoughts on Shawn Marion and "The Insider"

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"What got broken here doesn't go back together."

When I first read that Shawn Marion wants to be traded, that quote from Al Pacino's character was one of several from the movie The Insider that immediately came to mind. It doesn't matter now if Shawn or the Suns have a change of heart. The words have been spoken, and it's too late to take them back. There are teammates who won't forget. There are fans who won't forget. And the media will never forget. Ever. Any attempt to keep the Matrix in a Suns uniform at this point would likely carry with it such an enormous distraction that it probably isn't even worth pursuing. In short, what's done is done, and there's no turning back the clock. Time to move on, as Marion says.

"I'm just a commodity to you, aren't I?"

Is it fair to put all the blame on the Suns for failing to realize just how unhappy Shawn had become? I don't think so. But I don't think it's fair to blame Shawn 100% for it either. Let's put this in a "real world" perspective for a moment. Say you've worked for a company for eight years. You were there before any of your co-workers. You have poured your heart and soul into it, hardly ever missing a day, and yet it always seems like your accomplishments are barely mentioned while two of your co-workers get most of the credit. And if that weren't enough to make you feel like Dilbert on a bad day, you have to listen every year to rumors that you're going to be transferred to another division. You know you'll never get promoted, you're not likely to be invited back once your current project is through (unless you take a sizable pay cut), and on top of that, you get to hear your name come up in every bleeping rumor about personnel changes that comes across your boss's desk! Even if you were working for the best company in the world, there would probably come a time when you'd finally decide it's best to go ahead and part ways while you still had at least some control of your destiny.

"You don't get to 'instruct' anything around here!"

The Suns have every reason to feel slighted too, though. They have made Shawn their highest-paid player, and kept him all this time because--whether he realizes it or not--they value what he brings to this team! It is perfectly reasonable for them to expect him to fulfill the contract he signed, even if it means dealing with trades and rumors that are a normal part of life in the NBA. Did the Suns try to send him to Boston so they could obtain Kevin Garnett? Probably. But come on! How many players in the league would not be gladly offered up by their team's GM for a guy like KG? You could probably count them on one hand! And lest we forget, Boston really, really wanted Shawn! Couldn't he somehow manage to feel good about that? Didn't he learn anything from Steve Nash's experience with Dallas?

"I fought for you and I still fight for you!"

We fans have a right to feel jilted as well. In our own way, we have fought for Shawn. We have cheered him on for years. We have defended him to detractors. We have shared his frustration at the repeated trade rumors, and the inexplicable, inexcusable snubbing by those who vote on the All-Defensive team. We have thoroughly enjoyed watching every alley-oop dunk, every steal, every rebound. For some of us, he's even a major part of why we started watching the Suns to begin with. We wanted him to succeed. We wanted him to be happy here. Most of all, we wanted him to share in the joy of getting to win a championship with this team. His trade request is like a slap in the face to every one of us who have invested our time, our energy, and our money to watch him play. We deserved better than this public "laundry-airing" that will hurt his value and lessen our team.

"Is there an echo in here? Your objection's been recorded."

Perhaps the media shares some of the blame as well, and bloggers like me who have jumped on every chance to make a mountain out of a molehill whenever Shawn (or Amare or anyone else for that matter) says something that could be construed as controversial. It's a great way to get a discussion going (or sell a newspaper), but is it possible all that talk about Shawn being disgruntled eventually turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy? After all, it was the media who constantly brought those trade rumors to his attention time and time again, needling him like some mean little kid taunting a caged animal with a stick. And the rest of us just couldn't link to those articles fast enough, pouncing on quotes that may or may not have been taken out of context. Perhaps on some small level, we all helped to create this problem.

"Do you wish you hadn't come forward? Do you wish you hadn't blown the whistle?"

There is a part of me that believes, and even hopes that Shawn will realize a year from now he has made a huge mistake. It is a normal reaction of the jilted to wish regret on the person who did the jilting. But when it comes down to it, I can also appreciate that Shawn has been a loyal employee of the Suns for the past eight years. In all that time, he never allowed his unhappiness to stand between him and his team. Were the Suns to keep him despite his request, I have no doubt he would go out there and leave it all on the floor like he always has. I also believe he means it when he says he loves his teammates, Phoenix, and the fans. There is no way I can wish anything but the best for him, regardless of how angry I am at the moment. Whatever it is he's looking for, I truly hope he finds it. But I certainly won't mind if he has an "off" night whenever he plays the Suns.