Amaré Stoudemire

There was talk during the summer of the Phoenix Suns trading Amaré Stoudemire for Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves in a monster deal that involved the Boston Celtics, future draft picks, and bench players from all three teams.

In another scenario, it was Shawn Marion instead of Stoudemire in the roundabout. While we could have gotten behind a deal that involved Marion (frequently a playoffs no-show) for Garnett, a 7-foot former Most Valuable Player, Stoudemire's a different story. What a mistake that would've been! For starters, Garnett's 31 and Stoudemire's 24. Seven years is a lot of mileage in the NBA.

In fact, the idea was so wrong-headed that we've got to believe that it was some kind of negotiating ploy by savvy new general manager Steve Kerr. Maybe Kerr meant to send a message to Amaré that he'd better play nice with his teammates because (dum-de-dum-dum) nobody's sacred. There was oil-and-water talk inside the Suns organization that both he and Marion didn't try to fit in last season. You know, bad chemistry.

In Marion's case, whining that he's underappreciated was frequently mentioned. But not trying to fit in is about the only negative thing anybody could say about Amaré Stoudemire, a guy who came off microfracture surgeries on both knees to return to All-Star caliber. In fact, he helped lead the Western Conference to victory in the big game with a 29-point, nine-rebound performance. For the regular season, he averaged 20 points and 9.6 rebounds a game, and for the playoffs, it was 25.3 and 12.1. Talk about the clutch producer in the postseason that Marion isn't! Stoudemire played gingerly on those gimpy knees at the beginning of last season, but by the end, he'd returned to his old form, slam-dunking over some of the tallest players in the game.

At 6-feet-10, Amaré's a little undersized for a center, but he's so dominant inside that he's made patsies of the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and even Tim Duncan. Former NBA great and TNT commentator Charles Barkley, who calls Amaré "Hellboy," has predicted that the former rookie of the year will be MVP any season now. We just hope it's the one coming up.


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