Adam\’s Stream of Consciousness

If you blog it, they will come

  • December 2006
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“Vintage” Amare

Posted by Adam on December 30, 2006

So I’m watching the Mavericks-Suns game Thursday night, and really what a fantastic basketball game it was, and I can’t help but be taken back by some of the things coming out of the mouths of commentating duo Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins.  Now I know that inane soundbites from announcers shouldn’t take me back, after all Al Michaels is single-handedly responsible for diminishing injuries down to single words (a player is no longer out with a strained MCL, he’s simply out with a knee, etc), a trend which it unfortunately seems that 75% of the announcing fraternity has adopted.    The thing that irked me about the other night though was how they were talking about Amare Stoudemire’s play.

For those not up to speed on the situation, Stoudemire burst onto the NBA scene straight out of high school (yeah, he’s one of them) in 2002.  As a 20 year old that season, and with his only prior competition being overmatched high schoolers, Stoudemire averaged 13.5 points and almost 9 rebounds a game.  He went on to narrowly edge out Yao Ming (who had eerily similar stats that season) for Rookie of the Year honors.  Amare’s numbers improved the following season, but it was the addition of currently reigning two-time MVP Steve Nash in the 2004-2005 season that things got ridiculous.  That year Stoudemire averaged 26 points and 9 rebounds a game in the Suns new ultra paced offense, but the hype went beyond the gaudy stats.  What couldn’t translate to paper was the speed and energy that Amare played with, traits that aren’t very commonplace for 6’10” centers.

Last season, Stoudemire severely injured his knee in just his third game and underwent microfracture surgery.  Needless to say he did not play again that year, but he was able to return to the Suns at the beginning of this year.  That fact that he has been playing from game one this season is a remarkable feat in and of itself, but factor in that the hop is back in his step and the explosion has returned and what you have is an amazing accomplishment of physical perseverence.  Amare is averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds in 31+ minutes a night during the month of December.  I think it is safe to say he is back.   Which more or less brings us back full circle to Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins.

I enjoy listening to Collins and Harlan call games.  They aren’t my favorite duo for NBA games (that would be Marv Albert and anybody, recently it has been Steve Kerr who has done admirably holding his own), but I’d put them at a solid number two (better than any pairing on the ESPN/ABC games).  I swear they don’t listen to what they are saying sometimes though.  Stoudemire turned 24 last month.  I think we can all agree that he is still a young man by any measure.  However Harlan and Collins were calling his play on Thursday a “vintage Amare” performance.  Can something from two years ago really be dubbed vintage?  They also went on to say that he reminded them of the way he was playing “back in his prime”.  What!?  Wouldn’t that insinuate that at the ripe old age of 24, Stoudemire would be past his prime?  I don’t know that he’s even reached the prime of his career yet.  The guy missed one season with a gruesome injury, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves people!

The thing that does worry me though, is that supposedly the doctor who performed the microfracture surgery on Stoudemire said that in three or four years Amare will have to undergo the same surgery.  This news, coupled with an aging Steve Nash, whose own back is starting to become problematic (perhaps in part for carrying the team on his back),  gives the Suns this season and next season to win a championship.  I don’t think their window goes beyond that, and if in fact the news about Stoudemire needing a second surgery (and perhaps a third or fourth if he keeps playing) is indeed true, I would consider trading him once Nash retires.

Oh, and in case you were wondering.

Yeah, I’m back.

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