Over on ESPN’s Page 2, Scoop Jackson wrote a little column offering up some praise for Amar’e (in fact, the piece is entitled, “Amar’e Stoudemire deserves praise”). Scoop says:
You want a hero? Want an NBA superstar that you can believe in? Someone you can tell your kids to be like? Here he is. In this self-serving era when we seem to be in search of athletes who play the game “the way it is supposed to be played,” we ought to apply that standard to how they play the game off the court and field as well.
This is the reason I have more respect for Stoudemire than for any other player in pro sports right now. And I shouldn’t be alone in this. I know he doesn’t fit the typical description of the athlete we all should hold in such high regard. But truth be told, who else is setting a great example of how to be a grown man when the people employing him are acting like children?
Ok, I know that’s a big excerpt, but I didn’t want to paraphrase because I thought Scoop summed it up pretty perfectly. STAT doesn’t get nearly enough kudos for doing all of those things that people (and by “people,” of course, I mean “[predominantly white] sportswriters and columnists,” so whether that really means people, you can decide for yourself) always insist is all they expect from athletes: he plays hard, he doesn’t worry about all the talk, he understands that it’s a business, and he gets the job done.
You can say what you want about how much these guys get paid to play a game, but that’s not the point. They collect a salary commensurate with their talent and experience (Brian Cardinal notwithstanding), but they’re also people. No amount of money, truly, can turn off the hurt that comes with feeling unwanted. There would be nothing wrong with Stoudemire being upset because he was constantly the subject of trade rumors. But he’s continued to kick ass and dominate. He makes the odd off-hand comment about how it’s sort of stressful or frustrating…but then he shows up on the court and plays with joy and enthusiasm.
STAT’s a good dude. And his play of late makes me think that maybe he’s finally really and truly healthy. And if he’s finally really and truly healthy, then maybe he’s actually finally really and truly gonna be that guy who we all want him to be (and the guy he wants to get paid like). Hey, I was fully ready for him to get traded, and even talked myself into some of the deals that were rumored. Hey! Iguodala’s an acceptable replacement! Hell yeah, Marreese Speights could replace what STAT does! Bring on Michael Beasley!
But with the benefit of that not happening…it’s really good to see Amar’e in orange. Or black and white: