Amare Stoudemire: I'm Not "Retarded" or Confused Anymore

Jess RootCorrespondent IApril 14, 2010

PHOENIX - APRIL 13:  Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the Phoenix Suns slam dunks the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the NBA game at US Airways Center on April 13, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Nuggets 123-101.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I didn’t hear it on the Doug and Wolf show a couple of weeks ago when Amare Stoudemire was on (you see, I have that cursed thing called work—I mean, if I don’t do it, who is going to teach the kids how to use the subjunctive mood in Spanish?), but I read about it

He said this:

“They’re simply retarded and that they haven’t been watching my career at all since I’ve been in the league.”

Amare, retarded? Really? So you would say that those of us who wonder if your recent domination is motivated only by your contract status are mentally disabled?

Using Root Quotoshop (a new program I use to touch up statements—no, it’s not really a program, it’s just me making things sound better/more realistic), I came up with this, making what he said less offensive and more realistic, based on our experience with him as fans:

“They’re simply retarded and that they haven’t been confused from watching my career at all since I’ve been in the league.”

Proof of the retardation confusion:

  1. Stoudemire averages 37 points a game in the 2005 playoff series against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
  2. One week after signing a five-year maximum contract extension, he has microfracture surgery on his knee (smells suspiciously like Penny Hardaway).
  3. After recovering from two knee surgeries, he bounces back in 2006-07 to average 20.4 points and (more impressively) 9.6 rebounds a game, and is named to the All-NBA Second Team.
  4. Stoudemire leaves the bench area and is suspended for a game in the all-too-familiar Suns/Spurs 2007 playoff series.
  5. Another All-Star season in 2008-09.
  6. He is benched the entire fourth quarter of the win over the Dallas Mavericks in January, after his effort netted a total of one rebound.
  7. Since that benching, he has averaged 26.0 points and 10.2 rebounds a game, has taken over games in deciding moments, and has been one of the top three or four players in the NBA in the last two months.

All this retardation confusion and yet I personally have a different feeling now about him as a player than I have in the past. There is something different about what I have observed in Amare.

He is not only scoring more and rebounding more. He is not just saying the right things. He is doing things that he has never done.

He is taking over games almost single-handedly. He’s not doing it off of the pick-and-roll. He is demanding the ball in the post with his back to the basket.

He is attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line.  In crunch time, the team is not leaning only on Steve Nash to take big shots.

Stoudemire is changing games; he has become the alpha-dog of the team. It was not long ago I thought that the Suns would be wise in trading Stoudemire. It makes me seem like a waffler, but I believe that now I am no longer confused about Amare.  

Just last week I was reading The Book of Basketball, by Bill Simmons, and I was reading a passage about Paul Pierce. I felt like I was reading about Amare. Here it is, just replace Boston and Pierce with Phoenix and Stoudemire:

"Boston fans found themselves in an all-too-frequent position for NBA diehards in the past two decades: we were tired of Pierce’s act, thought he needed a fresh start somewhere else and wondered if he was a lost cause, but we knew our team couldn’t possibly get equal value for him. So what do you do? Do you just keep crossing your fingers and hoping that a talented star who’s already made more money than he’ll ever need will suddenly realize, 'You know, I’m wasting my potential, maybe I should straighten myself out?' Or do you admit he’s a falling stock and cash out? There’s no right answer."

Paul Pierce turned himself around during the 2005-06 season. It is my belief that something has clicked with Stoudemire. Instead of talking about becoming a force and then deferring to Nash on the court, he is taking things over. I have to believe that he is becoming THE dominant power forward in the league.

Does it coincide in timing with his contract decision? Yes.

Could it be he is only playing for his next contract? It is possible.

Are there still lingering questions about the future of his knee? Certainly.

But I have to say that this surge feels different. It feels like something real this time.

America (especially Phoenix), hold me to this. I have taken a stand. Amare is and will be THE GUY. He is and will be the Suns’ difference maker. He is the horse we ride into battle on.

If a maximum deal is what it will take to bring him back, then I feel the team must do it. If in five years he has regressed to become an enigma again, you may mock me publicly.

I am done with playing around; I am all in. I am going to win big or crash and burn. Amare, I’m done with being retarded confused. Lead the way.

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