I bit. I believed the dude. I’ve hated on him for quite some time, but this year, I said, “Jordan, you are going to be as unbiased as you possibly can be in your writing, and you are going to take the dude at his word.”
Well, Amare and Shaq came up with Amare’s new nickname, Sun Tzu, and, you know what? He’s lived up to that name perfectly. Amare has used deception, or, more blatantly, lies, to try and make me believe that he has become something that he is not. Here are some examples of his art of war…
"I want to be Ron Artest,” he said all the way back in September. “I want to be that guy you fear when you see him guarding you."
"My goal is to become a phenomenal defensive player,'' he said in November. "That's my goal, to be a phenomenal defensive player night in, night out, no nights off. And ultimately to win a championship.'
So far, the Suns are 21st in points allowed, 24th in defensive rating and 22nd in defensive rebounding. This from a team who with Shawn Marion, sported the best offense (SSOL) last year while also maintaining a ranking of 16th in defensive rating.
And speaking of D’Antoni’s offense…
"I couldn't be more ecstatic about the decision,” he said in September about the hiring of Terry Porter and the leaving of Mike D’Antoni. “[Terry Porter] is very organized. He knows what it takes to win. He wants to be the champion. That falls into the category of the Stoudemire brand and also the Phoenix Suns brand. We want to be champions, whatever it takes to do it."
"A lot of defensive drills,'' he said of his coach’s practices at the beginning of November. "We're going over the different tactics of defense. It's very important from my standpoint, being a young player. I never really had long practices on defense. It was never really forced. We talked about it, but as far as practicing it and really going through the preparation, it is the first of my career.''
Just last week, that tune has hit a sour note. He’s openly been questioning Porter’s coaching. After getting beat down by the Lakers in their first meeting two weeks ago, he said the Lakers "were fluid, flowing,” and added, “I remember when we looked like that."
So now, he misses his old style of play after he threw D'Antoni under the bus with his "this is hte first time I've ever been taught how to play defense..." quotes. Throwing former teammates and coaches under the bus while complaining and never taking any blame...Sounds very…uh, Shaq-like.
Way back in September, Sun Tzu oozed enthusiasm, and yes, quite a bit of cockiness as well. "Expectations are higher than they've ever been. As I improve and I get better, we get better. I have no problem putting the total weight and everything we have on my shoulders. If we lose, I have no problem taking that burden. If we win, just make sure you guys give props where props are due. We're ready."
At the end of November and into December, his enthusiasm has lost all of its shine instead weathering down to a harsh, loud glare.
He’s suddenly “absolutely” looking at free agency in 2010. "As a player,” he said, “You should look at the teams you might want to play for. The city you may want to live in. The system you may want to play in. The economy. The cost of living. Everything. It's about what's best for you."
Always what’s best for himself…
“Right now,” Sun Tzu said, “I’m a little frustrated."
Well, he should be. Despite being a freak of nature athlete, Stoudemire is 23rd in the league in rebounding with a paltry 8.3 per contest. He’s sitting behind his own teammate Shaq, who plays 11 minutes less then him; Andrew Bynum and Drew Gooden who both play nearly 8 minutes less; and David Lee who averages 2 more boards but plays nearly 5 minutes less.
Spin his per 48-minute rebounding numbers and he comes in at 68th in the entire league. While I don’t put too much stock in per-48 minute numbers (because, they aren’t real) any big man who thinks of himself as a superstar can in no way shape or form average in any stat form, less boards than Darko Milicic (59th) and Ryan Anderson (63). Or maybe that’s why he gave up his nickname, STAT, cuz he couldn’t live up to it.
I read an article
(http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/sports/articles/2008/12/09/20081209suns1209.html) that tries to make it sound like Amare’s very body is the reason for his inability to rebound. Ha Ha. He’s blamed everyone from his former coach to his present coach’s style, to the lack of another big man, to, now, finally, his small frame…
You telling me that Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol are stronger and more athletic than Tzu? Or that all 6-foot 5-inches of Chuck Hayes who averages half of Amare’s rebounding in less than half the time (4.4 boards in 15 minutes) is better equipped to rebound despite being 4-5 inches shorter? Or that David Lee’s body is more blessed.
Dude…just man up and get the rebound.
As it stands now, Suns Fu has utilized his new name quite well. He's mastered the art of deception...of deceiving himself.
You know, that new haircut he’s sporting got me thinking about who he looks like. And then it hit me. To borrow a line from the always eloquent Mr. T,
“I pity the Foo…”