Scott Bordow: To know Amaré Stoudemire is to understand that what comes out of his mouth shouldn’t be taken seriously. The man is a walking, talking contradiction.
We point out these inconsistencies as a narrative for Stoudemire’s Twitter account, Amareisreal. In a post Tuesday morning, Stoudemire wrote: “Breaking News! Amaré Stoudemire to the Lakers!! He might take less money to win a championship.”
To know Amaré Stoudemire is to understand that what comes out of his mouth shouldn’t be taken seriously.
The man is a walking, talking contradiction.
He all but campaigned for the firing of coach Mike D’Antoni, then, feeling handcuffed by Terry Porter, longed for the offensive freedom D’Antoni gave him.
He was ecstatic when the Suns traded for Shaquille O’Neal, saying the move would allow him to play power forward, his natural position. A few months later, he was complaining that there wasn’t enough room in the lane for him to operate.
And, of course, there are his constant proclamations about wanting to be “the guy” yet never wanting to be held accountable. Remember this quote from last season: “I’m not a captain. So you can’t put too much of the blame on me. It’s not my job to rally the troops and get everybody on board. It’s the captain’s job to do that.”
We point out these inconsistencies as a narrative for Stoudemire’s Twitter account, Amareisreal. In a post Tuesday morning, Stoudemire wrote:
“Breaking News! Amaré Stoudemire to the Lakers!! He might take less money to win a championship.”
Well, that was news to the Suns, the Lakers, Commissioner David Stern and the rest of the league.
But that’s Amaré. One minute he wants to stay in Phoenix, the next he’s talking up New York and then he’s rhapsodizing about playing alongside Kobe Bryant.
Should we care?
Probably not. As we said, Stoudemire can’t be taken seriously.
Should the Suns care?
In all this Stoudemire trade talk, fans are ignoring the most relevant fact. If the Suns keep Stoudemire, they will have to extend his contract — and give him max dollars — so he doesn’t leave as a free agent following the 2009-10 season.
In essence, the Suns would commit to building their team around Stoudemire and making him the centerpiece of the locker room.
Are you comfortable with that?
It’s not just Stoudemire’s health, although a detached retina and microfracture knee surgery should give the Suns pause.
It’s Stoudemire’s attitude. Simply put, he’s not a leader.
The alpha male of a basketball team needs to be able to motivate teammates with his play and his work ethic. Why has LeBron James’ defense improved so dramatically the past couple of years? Because he was inspired by the commitment Bryant had on the defensive end during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
This is what Team USA director Jerry Colangelo told reporters in 2007: “Kobe has been a pacesetter, for sure. Defensively, he’s just locking people down. He’s so strong and so focused; you just can’t say enough about his work ethic and how he has led. He’s done a great job.”
Does that sound like Stoudemire?
Could Amaré grow into the role? Sure. He’s only 26. Kobe didn’t get it until he was in his late 20s.
But so far, Stoudemire has shown no inclination that he cares about making his teammates better or that he’s willing to be held responsible when things go wrong.
Given the number of impressionable young players the Suns will have in their locker room the next few years, is that the kind of tone they want set?
Now, that doesn’t mean the Suns should make a bad deal involving Stoudemire, either now or at the February trading deadline. He has too much value throughout the league just to dump him.
But given the two options — trade him or sign him for the next five years and hope he grows up — there’s little doubt which is the proper course of action.