Last night the super talented and equally frustrating Amar'e Stoudemire (fka Stat / aka Sun Tzu) tweeted his followers this question:
If I stay with the Phoenix Suns, will I ever win Chmpionship? What do you think world. Suns fan be true to me. Don't be biased!! Real Talk!
Amare is not a man with a personal history filled with people giving him straight talk and it turns out he didn't respond so well to what he heard. At one point in the twitter conversation, he messaged a long time Suns fan and called him a "hater" for tweeting this response:
you'll never cause you are too concerned about being the man.. play defense, play with heart.. learn from Grant hill
Amare asked for "Real Talk" and he got it. Most of the responses I saw were along these lines and basically can be summed up this way. If you give as much effort on defense as you do on offense then perhaps you can win in Phoenix
Amare's response to what most of us would consider to be an obvious and well-known flaw in his game makes you wonder just who is advising this guy. Does he really not understand the difference between what he is and what he can be and how frustrating that is to his fans?
I am guessing the answer is no.
Amare lives in a bubble where few people exist to question his belief in his own greatness. His self confidence is a good thing and I believe that Amare truly is a "good guy" but his blatant lack of self-awareness can be startling at times.
The question still remains as it did at the beginning of last season: Can Amare take his game to another level? Last fall, we saw about two weeks of the player Amare can be before the entire Suns season took a turn after 8 games. From that point until Terry Porter was fired at the All-Star break, the team, and certainly Amare, didn't play for their coach.
Amare's effort on the glass and on defense was a reflection of how motivated he was (wasn't) to play under Terry Porter, but that's all in the past and Amare will enter this season with the coach he wanted.
Here's what Amare said at the end of last season about the various coaches he's played for and his preference for Alvin Gentry, who was still the "interim" coach at that time:
"Mike was a quiet guy. Sometimes he didn't talk to a certain players. Didn't communicate as well to the players which sometimes can be a little frustrating because you want to build that relationship with your coach. You want to build that friend(ship) so you can sit down with him and talk about personal thoughts and also basketball. You want that friendship with your coach. Mike was a quiet guy.
Then you bring in Terry Porter a guy who's a little more, a little more bold as far as 'his way or the highway'. Wasn't really accepting of what we thought would work or try an implement what we thought would work.
Then you bring in Alvin, a guy who is definitely a players coach. A guy you can talk to and say 'hey man you know', 'family situation here', 'or my kids here', 'my kids are doing great in school', 'how are your kids'. That's the type of conversation you want to have with your coach. Alvin's that guy.
You want a coach that you can really hug and hold and high five and really have fun with. That makes it fun to play. You can high five and hug your team mates. You don't want to have fear of your coach. You want to be respectable with him but you also want to be a friend with him."
Amare has his friend on the bench now and Shaq is gone from the paint. As long as Amare is healthy, the excuses will be gone as well.
If Amare wants to play for a championship team in Phoenix, then all eyes are on him.
I was optimistic going into last season that Amare was going to make the leap. It didn't happen and I have a hard time thinking that some other obstacle won't find its way in front of him again this year.
There are very few players with the potential to impact the game like Amare can. Here's to hoping Sun Tzu has matured enough to not let anything stop him from reaching that level. Then we can discuss winning rings in Phoenix.