Where out for the season means out for the season


Suns fans, if not Suns players and management, have been clinging to the hope of “if only they reach the playoffs, Amare will return to save the day.”

Not that they were even a playoff team with STAT in the lineup, but you would at least think the Amare, Nash and Shaq Big Three would give the Suns a fighting chance against anybody in this unconventional system.

No need to worry about that any more after Amare’s doctor told The Arizona Republic on Thursday that STAT will definitively not be returning to the court this season.

“Not this season, not at all,” Dr. Pravin Dugel told the paper. “It’s very difficult to explain to anyone how serious this is. It’s more serious than any knee or ankle surgery. The healing is excruciatingly slow and delicate.”

If anybody is going to come riding in on a white horse to save te season at this point the only option is Stromile Swift, and who honestly thinks that is going to happen?

Now the question is was Amare’s 42-point masterpiece on 15-for-20 shooting on that fateful Feb. 18 evening in Los Angeles the last time he will suit up in a Phoenix uniform?

At the deadline I would have said it’s very likely that 2008-09 will be it for Amare in Phoenix, but I can’t see teams exactly mortgaging their futures to deal for a player they will control for only one season coming off surgery that his doctor described as more serious than any knee surgery, even the microfracture procedure STAT already came back from.

If I’m the Suns, I don’t make a deal just to make a deal, so let’s hope the orders don’t come down from above demanding a payroll-slashing trade involving Amare in which the Suns would be lucky to even get sixty cents on the dollar.

Best-case scenario now would be for Amare to rebuild his value and be dealt at the break if that’s what’s eventually going to happen, but even then how much will teams offer for a couple months of a rental? The Suns would have to deal him to a team in position to sign him after a test drive to have any chance of getting a decent deal.

Then again, maybe the Suns will decide to go back to their original Plan A of making Amare their franchise player and locking him up to a big-money, long-term deal, but it’s way too early to expect something like that to happen.

It’s also way too late to question why Amare stopped wearing goggles seven games into the season due to discomfort, although he seemed quite comfortable during that career game in Indiana when he exploded for 49 points on 17-for-21 shooting to go with 11 boards, six assists, five steals and two blocks.

Even if he doesn’t wear them all season, why not wear them in Los Angeles when he already was complaining about his eyes?

Of all the mistakes Amare has made over the years, they all pail in comparison to the decision not to do a Horace Grant impression and slap on some goggles.

The Shaq strikes back

OK, OK, we get it, don’t mess with Shaq.

The quote machine known as Shaquille O’Neal has been on over drive lately, from calling Chris Bosh the RuPaul of NBA big men to his proclamation that you can google him because he’s been doing this for the past 17 years to Superman banter with Dwight Howard to a full-on tirade against Stan Van Gundy.

In the Van Gundy diatribe he managed to also bash Van Gundy’s brother Jeff (can’t wait to hear his response when he gets the Suns for a national TV game), Patrick Ewing and Howard.

The highlights of the rant involved calling Van Gundy a “front runner” who panics under pressure and is hated by his team, something Shaq could claim to know as a former Van Gundy player.

This all started when Van Gundy said he was “shocked, seriously shocked” that Shaq tried to flop on a Howard drive to the bucket in Tuesday’s game.

Shaq’s response:

“I tried to stand there and take the charge. The new rules say if you come through, you fall. But as I fell, I realized that it was a flop and it reminded me of coach Van Gundy’s whole coaching career. The one thing I despise is a frontrunner. First of all, none of his players like him. When it gets tough, he will become the master of panic like he did before and he will quit like he did before.”

Of course Shaq is being hypocritical for flopping in any circumstance in light of his whole Vlade Divac Queens shtick back in the day, but the Shaqtus is absolutely right about these rules.

During the Miami game, Dwyane Wade barreled into Shaq’s chest, but the Daddy barely moved, so Wade picked up the ball (traveling perhaps?) and laid in another crucial two points for the Heat.

If Steve Nash is defending in that situation it’s the most obvious charging call in the history of charging calls, but since Shaq is an immovable object no call was whistled. Why shouldn’t Shaq go down when he’s hit square in the chest like every other NBA player does?

As for the issue of Shaq’s yapping, not everybody is exactly thrilled, such as bloggers from Black Jesus Disciples and Empty the Bench.

To me that’s just Shaq being Shaq as much as Manny Ramirez’s shenanigans are just Manny being Manny.

Shaq is almost an entertainer first and a world-class basketball player second. He’s always there with a money one-liner, and like he’s said, he’s not going to back down to anybody.

The Van Gundy rant may have crossed the line a bit, but the RuPaul quote was hilarious and I’m still laughing about the Google line.

Don’t take Shaq so seriously, it’s just Shaq being Shaq.

Grab a tape recorder and enjoy.

Kerr visits Tucson to honor UA legend Olson

Suns GM Steve Kerr spent the evening down in the Old Pueblo honoring longtime Arizona head coach Lute Olson, the man who helped him start a lengthy NBA career that ended with him taking charge of your favorite professional basketball team, for better or worse.

Kerr spoke along with UA President Robert Shelton and athletic director Jim Livengood. The Suns GM thanked Olson for being a father figure to all the UA players, putting them on the right path in life and providing guidance when needed. I wonder what Olson would do with the Suns this offseason.

It was a touching moment for everybody in the Arizona family, and it was especially surreal for me watching it at home as a reporter whose biggest accomplishments have come covering this legend who so badly botched his retirement.

All I could think is this was all any of us wanted all along, for Olson to graciously ride away into the sunset with former UA legends like Kerr lauding his greatness and a misty-eyed Olson taking in the whole scene surrounded by his beloved family.

Instead we got lies about his leave of absence, a terse return, burned bridges with former assistants and now a program that basically will have lost all of its top-flight recruits for two years running.

Instead of demoting a 27-year assistant in Jim Rosborough – who was rudely pushed aside so that Olson could bring on another former assistant in Kevin O’Neill, who was then even more rudely pushed aside – coach Roz was back in McKale to honor his former boss.

It was the type of warm and fuzzy moment that should have taken place a year ago, with Olson leaving Tucson with the same impeccable class and grace he coached with throughout his 24 years of building the University of Arizona into a basketball mecca.

Instead bridges were burned with staff members, bridges were burned with current players, bridges were burned with recruits and ultimately when the Wildcats field their most underwhelming roster next season since Olson’s first year Olson will likely leave the program in just about the same decrepit state he found it in after a quarter-century of bliss and elite basketball.

During his speech, Kerr remarked, “In a couple of weeks we’re going to make it 25 years in a row (of making the NCAA Tournament), and it’s all because of this man right here.”

But just like everything else in this strange Lute Olson saga, the Wildcats couldn’t even get the part right where they deliver an emotional victory to all but punch their ticket to the Big Dance, as instead their first four-game losing streak since Olson’s inaugural season at Arizona put a damper on this special evening.

And although he is a UA alum who has been spotted around McKale Center once or twice, I don’t think we can blame Robert Sarver for any of this.