Just when the rainbow appeared, the storm clouds returned right back in the face of the Phoenix Suns.
Or should I say Amare Stoudemire’s partially detached retina.
Right when the Suns looked to be back to being the Phoenix Suns, they’ll be nothing more than the 2005-06 Amare-less Suns, just with Shaquille O’Neal somehow playing the part of Boris Diaw and Lou Amundson being Shawn Marion.
After weeks of trade speculation, the Suns held onto Amare and now end up losing him for nothing after he underwent surgery Friday that’s expected to keep him out for eight weeks.
“We are very glad to hear that Amare should have a 100 percent recovery relative to his vision and his long-term prognosis is excellent,” Suns GM Steve Kerr said in a statement.
“Obviously, it is very disappointing to lose him at this time. We are all very excited about the progress the team is making, but Amare’s health and the health of all our players is our No. 1 concern.”
The injury appeared to happen innocently enough Wednesday night.
Clippers forward Al Thornton drove the lane with a little over three minutes left in the first quarter and went up to dunk on Amare. Amare met him at the top, and Thornton’s off hand met Amare’s eye.
Amare kneeled over in pain and his teammates all patted him on his back for encouragement.
Then Amare went back to his regularly-scheduled 42-point beating on Thornton, but that Amare-Thornton mistmatch that looked so good yesterday makes me kind of queasy now.
As you may remember, Amare missed some time in training camp after being poked in the iris by Diaw.
When he returned to the court, he sported some Horace Grant-style eyeglasses, and at the time said he planned to stick with them the rest of his career.
That lasted all of seven games after he complained of discomfort, although those glasses didn’t stop him from putting up 49 in Indiana in early November during the best game of his career.
If only Amare had traded style and comfort for safety.
Obviously Suns fans can lament Phoenix now getting nothing in return for STAT for this season at least, but we were all rejoicing yesterday that Amare wasn’t dealt, so you can’t have it both ways. And for the long-term future of the franchise, it’s better that he’s still here.
Unless a deal was made before the Clippers game, it likely would have been voided anyway at this point, but Ty Thomas isn’t sounding so bad right about now (for this season at least).
As bad as things have gone for the Suns this year, they really hadn’t been bit by the injury bug that seems to be taking so many teams in the league.
Sure, Nash and Shaq have missed games here and there, but nobody had missed any extended period of time.
I was thinking about this yesterday, feeling that one way or another the Suns were kind of due for some bad injury luck. I just didn’t expect it to be courtesy of Al Thornton’s finger, or a season-ending eye injury.
What to do now?
As John Hollinger writes, the only thing the Suns can do now is run, run and run some more, and just hope Shaq can keep up.
If conventional didn’t work with an All-Star starting power forward, it sure as hell isn’t going to work with Lou Amundson, so I say first of all go back to starting Matt Barnes. He was much better earlier in the year as a starter, and then you’re going fast and quick from the tip.
Then you bring in LB and Sweet Lou, and Gentry was already finding ways to get Jared Dudley in the game, so you know he’s going to play a pretty major role.
Then you give LB something like 30-35 minutes a game and go with the unstoppable Nash-LB-J-Rich lineup as much as possible.
The last four years we’ve seen what unconventional can do. Will it win a championship? Probably not, but just getting to the playoffs would be somewhat of an achievement at this point, and I think that’s the best way to do so.
For all the Suns fans feeling the gloom and doom right now, I have two words for you: Ewing Theory.
It’s Bill Simmons’ theory that proves itself right more often than you’d expect saying that when a team loses a star it rallies together and becomes more than the sum of its parts.
The Suns already experienced one Ewing Theory run without Amare in 2005-06, which in hindsight was the closest they ever came to a championship believe it or not although on paper it was their worst team of the past four years.
Kerr already was mulling an addition by subtraction Amare deal, and now the team really has no choice but to rally around each other, start pulling the cliché “Nobody believed in us” card that Cardinals fans know so well and play some inspired basketball.
You’ve got to believe Grant Hill is going to rally the troops today and say exactly that.
Or of course it could go the other way, another injury among the three elder statesmen could doom the club, and the Suns could just fold up their tents and wait til next year.
But let’s wait this out, why don’t we?
The Suns once again are the lovable underdog, the team with the enchanting style that’s going to play small, get beat on the boards, but be fun as hell to watch. And maybe even give a damn.
Throw in the paradoxical Shaq Factor when Run and Fun can turn into a Shaq Attack when the game grinds down, and I say let’s not give up on this season just yet.
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire