I love superhero stories. Batman is one of my favorites because he stands out from most others. Bruce Wayne’s alter ego did not possess any supernatural power or have some freakish event give him a particular gift. He was a regular guy with a ton of gadgets and the will to vanquish evil in Gotham.
Of course, he also had his faithful companion in Robin. Imagine if, for a while, Robin were injured and could not help Batman. Let’s say that Batman went out fighting crime with Alfred, his loyal, but old, butler. Would Batman have had the same results, especially against the worst of the enemies?
I certainly do not wish to insult Alfred, as we know that he is more than some old guy. He was tougher than most would give him credit for, but he definitely was no Robin.
What Amare Stoudemire (aka, STAT-man) accomplished in the frontcourt while starting alongside Alfred, uh, Jaron Collins, was nothing short of shocking. Collins has been in the league for a long time and has had a reputation for being tough, but, at least from my view in Arizona, he has had more notoriety for having a twin brother in the league (Jason, who currently is an Atlanta Hawk) than for his on-court accomplishments.
The turning point for the Phoenix Suns’ season can be traced to January 18, when coach Alvin Gentry inserted Robin Lopez into the starting lineup, playing center alongside Stoudemire. For those 31 games, the Suns posted a 21-9 record.
STAT-man became a different player after Robin started playing center alongside him. The things that Robin does well are things that compliment perfectly STAT-man’s game.
Robin plays with a lot of energy, forces opponents to deal with him on the glass, which frees up Stoudemire to get more boards without having to bang with taller, wider players. Robin guards bigger, stronger players, which cause STAT-man problems on the defensive end because of his thinner build. Offensively, Robin does not take up too much, becoming a perfect sidekick, allowing the bigger star in STAT-man shine in the paint.
Let us not discount, though, that Stoudemire is still STAT-man even without Robin. After going down with a back injury, the team finished strongly, going 8-2 in the last ten games of the regular season without him. Admittedly, there were some cupcake games in those ten games, but five of the final six games were against playoff teams.
In the playoffs, Phoenix so far is also 8-2, defeating Portland and our hero’s most frustrating enemy (the hated Spurs). Nonetheless, STAT-man did not shine as he normally would. After all, he did have an old Alfred (Collins) to help. It made things more difficult.
There is good news in Gotham, uh, I mean Phoenix. Alvin Gentry said on Wednesday, "I'll be shocked if he (Robin Lopez) doesn't play." He added, that if he plays, that “there's probably a good possibility that he could start.”
This could not have come at a better time. Arguably the Suns’ toughest opponent is up next in the Los Angeles Lakers. STAT-man certainly could use the help that Robin can provide while battling the evil likes of Pau Gasol (aka Hairy Maniac), Andrew Bynum (Protégé), and Lamar Odom (Enigma).
Next week’s series against the Lakers will STAT-man’s biggest test. Luckily, in addition to Robin’s return, he also has other members of the Justice League to assist as well.
In any case, even if Robin is unable to help, STAT-man and the Justice League are still quite a team, but they certainly are stronger when it is Robin out there and not Alfred.
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