A tale of two superstars: Exits of Amare Stoudemire and LeBron James could not be more different

Amare Stoudemire and LeBron James left their teams on completely different terms.

Amare Stoudemire and LeBron James left their teams on completely different terms.

Two NBA superstars left behind the only city they have ever played for this offseason.

Both of those superstars enjoyed immense success in their cities, and both of them have been on the doorstep of a championship numerous times, including this year.

But the feeling surrounding the departures of LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire could not be more different.

I understand that LeBron is the greatest player on this planet and STAT is a guy most Suns fans wouldn’t have signed to a max contract to if it were their money, but especially considering their reputations entering the summer, their public perceptions in the aftermath of free agency is kind of shocking when juxtaposed against each other.

While Cleveland fans are burning LeBron’s jersey in the streets, Amare is sharing the love with Suns fans by taking out a back page ad in Friday’s Arizona Republic that says the following:

Dear People of Phoenix,

As most of you know, my 8 year career with the Phoenix Suns has ended, but I wanted to take this final opportunity to say “thank you” to the people of Phoenix and the wonderful Suns fans for your constant support throughout my career. Players changing teams is part of the business of professional basketball and to simply say that it was difficult to leave the Suns organization, my teammates, the coaching staff, and most of all you, the fans, is an understatement!

I want all of you to know that I leave Phoenix with great appreciation and with a heart full of warm memories and gratitude for the many years of support I’ve always felt from the people of Phoenix, from the Colangelo and Sarver families, and from my teammates and coaches.

I arrived here as a 19 year old kid. Here I became a man. My children were born here. I made friendships here that I will always treasure.

So I am saying so long, but not goodbye, to a great community that I will always consider part of my extended family.

With love and respect,


From the fans I’ve spoken with, the feeling is mutual. I expect Amare to get more cheers than boos when the Knicks visit US Airways Center this season, and I think many Suns fans hope Amare succeeds in New York, especially after he ensured there would be a trade exception that cost him money in Year 1 but helped the Suns acquire talent to help fill his void.

It was a regrettable but understandable circumstance that led to his departure. He wanted to maximize his earning potential and play in a city that appeals to his love of center stage, and the Suns didn’t feel comfortable with the risks involved with max money and max years.

Both parties made sound business decisions, and it was nothing unexpected for anybody who has followed the past two years. Amare has always wanted that money and fame as the top dog. After years of flurries of rumors, Suns fans seem to be at peace with the decision, especially considering the risk at the end of the contract.

It’s also startling to see the differences in how the owners have responded to their stars fleeing town. Both Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Suns owner Robert Sarver released statements on their team’s site regarding said departure.

Gilbert’s infamous diatribe in comic sans includes the following passage:

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight: “I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former ‘king’ wins one.”
You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels. …

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

While Gilbert’s was a venom-spewing rant, Sarver’s was a thank you:

On behalf of the entire Suns organization I want to thank you, Amar’e, for eight special years as a Phoenix Sun. We couldn’t have achieved all our success without you. We wish you nothing but the best in the next chapter of your basketball life with the New York Knicks. We look forward to being able to honor you in some way in the future….. maybe in the Suns Ring of Honor.

I feel about the same way Sarver does. Thanks for the memories, best of luck in New York, you will always be known as a great Phoenix Sun.

Obviously James being from Cleveland, the Cleveland sports drought, his immaturity,  and his hype of potentially being known as the greatest ever contributed to the mess that ensued for him.

But isn’t it interesting that as Amare Stoudemire leaves town he’s seen as the mature superstar splitting amicably while LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are suffering through the messiest possible divorce?

Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire Dan Gilbert Lebron James Robert Sarver

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/HysteriaProductions Haipei

    The differences between the two departures are very clear, and I think it's safe to say that Amar'e will always be welcomed here.

    It's not true to say that Lebron James is "from Cleveland" though. He was born and grew up in Akron and was a longtime fan of Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. He probably felt no more attachment to the Cavaliers than he would have felt towards any other team.

  • Alex D.

    Classy move by Stoudemire. That's how you make an exit. Even though I agree that most Suns fans wouldn't say he deserved a max contract, STAT be will remembered fondly for his eight-year run in Phoenix which, despite the disappointments, offered far more good than bad. And despite all the initial rumblings about his rocky childhood, he never embarrassed the city off the court. I'll leave New Yorkers to endlessly pick apart Stoudemire's defense and rebounding (that's their job now!) and appreciate a pretty good eight years.

  • LeBron Daily

    STAT is an amazing guy! I saw hi speak at the NBA Gala in Dallas during All Star weekend.

  • Suns68

    I too admire Amare's classy exit, although I want it on record there were some fans who think it was a mistake to let him go.

    I'm rooting for our new ensemble cast, but it just won't be the same without the big kid flying at the rack.

    It does give me one thing I never had before – a reason to root for the Knicks in the East.

  • Mike Meez

    Good contrast; funny how public image can change so quickly. Amar’e will always be welcome back to Phoenix. This ad in the paper is really icing on the cake after Amar’e getting the Suns that trade exception.

    I got to attend D’Antoni’s first game back as Knicks coach and the fans were very gracious and cheered when his name was announced. I hope to be there for STAT’s first game back as a Knick where I’m sure he’ll get a similar reception.

  • John

    I agree completely..this is a business, after all, and both Amare and the Suns had to make tough biz decisions (interesting read on Fanhouse in which Amare says he wanted to stay, but Suns only offered 3yrs guarranteed.) With exception of the occasional Charles Barkley Syndrome (speaking before thinking,) Stat represented both the Suns and the city of Phoenix well off the court..and on the court he was one hell of a show, must see tv. I’ve said it before, he is the 2nd best big man in SUNS HISTORY, and I look forward to giving him a standing O when he returns next year.

  • Morel Orel

    Another difference is that the Cavs probably drop out of playoff contention and become a rebuilding team with Lebrons exit, while the Suns are still going to be a good team…

  • The Troof

    Haipei, Akron is a suburb of Cleveland. Lebron is from the Cleveland area. It is a 20 minute drive from one metro area to the next. Lets not split hairs here, sport.

  • http://morgamic.com/ morgamic

    Gotta hand it to Amare, but I think he would have been happier if he would have stayed.

  • Jeremiah

    The Troof – The distance between the two cities is trivial. LeBron himself never considered Cleveland his hometown. Simple as that.

  • Michael

    Michael Schwartz, Great insight, I work in Afghanistan, raised in Phoenix, Suns fan since 1974. Seen them come and seen them go….Hated to see Amare go, but he steps away with integrity and class. Still looking forward to a very competitive season ( from afar ) with fresh willing faces…Go Steve, Go Suns !!!!

  • joe

    Amare is a stud and all around solid individual. He makes Lebron look like the immature, no class punk that he is. It’s fine that Lebron wanted to leave cleveland, but the way he did so is a joke and a slap in the face to everyone who supported his spoiled, over hyped ass!!! He’s no King, just a phoney follower. A king leads by example and it’s a shame that he set the worst example of how to be gracious in the history of free agency. Nice job Amare!!! You are much more of a king than Lebron. You did it the right way and I’m going to miss your beastly dunks so much! God bless

  • Pingback: Few signs remain of the 'seven seconds or less' Suns| Valley of the Suns

  • http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/michael-jordan-questions-lebron-james-move-to-miami-071910?GT1=39 Jordan questions LeB

    Interesting quick read that includes quotes from Jordan..

    "There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team. But that's … things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."

    and Barkley..

    "Mike and I are in 100 percent agreement on this. If you're the two-time defending NBA MVP, you don't leave anywhere. They come to you. That's ridiculous. I like LeBron. He's a great player. But I don't think in the history of sports you can find a two-time defending MVP leaving to go play with other people."


  • Steve

    Amare provided us with a lot of excitement. I'm extremely disappointed he couldn't deliver on a championship. But I'm sure he's disappointed about that, as well. And I'm hoping, for his sake, that he figures out the reason he couldn't get it done is because he never fully committed to defense. It's a love-hate thing with me, but I'm very appreciative of the time that Amare spent in PHX.

  • LeBron Daily

    Ouch. That's a good observation Shawn…