When I was nineteen years old, I cursed Amar’e Stoudemire. I didn’t curse at him, I cursed him.
I was at the Chandler Mall with my 10-year-old cousin, when we spotted two Suns players walking through the food court. One was established star, Stephon Marbury, the other was coming off his second season, and was my new favorite Sun, Amar’e Stoudemire. My cousin and I knew we would have to act fast if we wanted an autograph because neither of us had a pen. So, we rushed into the first store we saw with pens and bought a sharpie, then headed straight for Amar’e. Along with ten or fifteen other kids we approached the players and I asked, “Amar’e, can my cousin get an autograph?” The autograph was obviously, secretly, for me. I made eye-contact to make sure he felt how badly I wanted this signature, and extended out a Suns hat and the sharpie we just purchased. Amar’e starred into my eyes and said, “No, Sorry kid, not allowed.”
“NOT ALLOWED! Stephon freaking Marbury is signing autographs, WHY CAN’T YOU?!”, I thought.
Instead, I said, “You’ve had one good season, do you really think you should be big timing your fans? I bet if you tear your knee, you’ll be signing every autograph you’re asked for.”
Around one year after this encounter, it was announced that Amar’e was injured before the start of the season and needed Micro-fracture surgery. Because Stoudemire averaged 26.0ppg the year after I cursed him, it made his fall from grace that much more humbling. I realized that I am more powerful than I thought, and that I should be careful what I wish for. Once Amar’e got hurt, I felt bad and started rooting for him to be great, rather than be humbled.
Amare’s went on to become my favorite Suns player, even over back to back MVP Steve Nash. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for guys who come from troubled pasts, and Amar’e, who attended five high schools, fit the bill. In fact, I would become such an Amar’e fan that rumors of his trade sparked me creating ifiredterryporter.com. I started the website as a campaign, using statistics, to explain why Amar’e wasn’t the problem, Terry Porter and his slowed down style of play was.
I took pride in the fact the Suns for the first time in team history fired a coach in his first year, half way through the season. Even if I didn’t impact the result personally, it felt like a win for those of us who were defenders of the Seven Seconds or Less Suns.
I emailed every news source i could think of, including Gambo and Ash, and Pardon the Interruption, hoping the national media would pick up my stories.
Here is an example of an exchange Gambo and I had about Amar’e after he went 1/7 on FG’s in the fourth quarter against the Portland Trailblazers:
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2009 3:50 PM
To: John Gambadoro; Mark Asher
Subject: Amar’e has HUGE value
He has been improving so much as of late. He controlled the game early, and his step is getting quicker and stronger. You guys said go to the rack, he did. You said play defense, he did. How’d LaMarcus play? Is 4th quarter scoring the only important thing?
No, but when the game was on the line he did nothing….one basket in the fourth, a significant turnover, had a shot blocked, missed four shots, got replaced by Lou…Not good enough. Great players step up in crunch time.
As you can see, I was an Amar’e apologist. I’ve never seen a player with Amar’e size, athleticism, and touch around the basket. When STAT developed a mid-range jump shot, he was essentially unguardable in the pick and roll with Steve Nash. Nash coming to Phoenix helped him unlock his potential and establish himself as one of the best players in the NBA. He made five ALL-NBA teams and six All-Star games. Even though Amar’e got himself suspended for walking onto the court against the Spurs in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, I blamed everything, and everyone else.
More from Valley of the Suns
- Ranking the Phoenix Suns’ 5 holiday games in 2023-24
- Zion Williamson gets compared to Phoenix Suns legend
- Suns player preview: Bol Bol can be the perfect role player
- Former Suns’ guard shows he is officially done with Phoenix
- NBA insider guarantees Suns’ rival won’t make blockbuster trade
Even with history of knee trouble, I was in the “give Amar’e his money” camp. Admittedly, in hindsight, if Amar’e had the same injury troubles he had in New York, the Suns would have been in financial ruin. I still like to think the Suns training staff, the best in the business, would have found a way to keep Amar’e on the court. Either way, it hurt my feelings when Amar’e deliberately made an effort to retire as a Knick, when his only great years in the NBA were in Phoenix.
I have never been more invested personally in a player’s success than Stoudemire and after the way it turned out, I likely never will be again.
Just so you know how much I loved watching him in a Suns uniform, here is a promotional button I had printed and gave out, to do my part in keeping Amar’e in Phoenix.