Standing tall and talented, Amare Stoudemire was drafted 9th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2002 NBA Draft and took the Valley by storm. A high school player who attended numerous schools in his journey to the NBA, the 19 year-old had originally committed to the University of Memphis.
“I saw him perform in the McDonald’s open,” then GM and owner Jerry Colangelo said of Stoudemire as a prospect. “He was like a man among boys. I said to Bryan [Colangelo] to Mark West to our staff, ‘Bring him in. I want to see this guy.”
Thankfully for Phoenix, he chose to declare for the NBA Draft instead. Stoudemire in turn won the 2002 Rookie of the Year Award, a feat accomplished only two other times in Suns’ history (Walter Davis in 1976 and Alvan Adams in 1978).
His aggressiveness around the rim and physical brand of play would assist in defining the Seven Seconds or Less Suns Era, acting as an ideal complement to the run and gun style of basketball Phoenix would deploy in his third season with the team. That season, his first with Steve Nash, would see him earn his first of five All-Star team selections while in Phoenix.
While knee injuries might have hampered him physically during his eight seasons with the Suns, there was no denying his impact on the team and the city. He was a brute force who possessed a desire to go through defenders in order to score, not around them. His highlight dunks were that of legend and his posterizations sparked fear in opposing defenders across the league.
When paired with the smooth passing of Steve Nash, he was the executor of the deadliest pick-and-roll combinations the league has ever seen.
A fan favorite for the intangibles that he brought, he is still on numerous franchise top 10 lists:
- 9th in Minutes Played (17,686)
- 3rd in Free Throws Made (3,004) and Attempted (4,018)
- 3rd in Offensive (1,378), Defensive (3,235), and Total Rebounds (4,613)
- 5th in Blocks (722)
- 7th in Points (11,035)
- 8th in Field Goal Percentage (.544)
- 5th in Points Per Game (21.4)
His 26.0 points per game in 2004-05 is the fifth highest average in franchise history, and his 25.2 in 2007-08 is 10th. He holds the two best player efficiency ratings in a season, 27.6 in 2007-08 and 26.6 in 2004-05. His 2007-08 he had the best win shares in franchise history at 14.6.
In short? STAT was very, very good in Phoenix.
The Suns announced this past offseason that they would be inducting him into the Ring of Honor, a move long overdue.
The team announced on Thursday when they would be honoring his number 32. Almost poetically, they’re doing it on March 2 against the Houston Rockets. 3/2.
No. 32 to be retired on 3.2 ☄️— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) October 19, 2023
Join us for a special postgame ceremony as we officially induct Amar'e Stoudemire into the Suns Ring of Honor, for his unforgettable legacy in the Valley!
️: https://t.co/dF2zxRuw1m pic.twitter.com/Qpjk6AR2GD
STAT, we can’t wait to see YOU! It’s been far too long and the Valley is looking forward to having recognized for the effort he put forth and the desire in which he did so.