Monday, February 9, 2009

Amar'e: I Am Not A Leader

I’ve speculated in the past that perhaps Amar’e Stoudemire is not a true franchise player. While talented, there has been little evidence to suggest that a team could thrive with Stoudemire as the face of the franchise, and we now have proof- thanks to Amar’e himself. When asked by the Arizona Republic about his role with the inconsistent Phoenix Suns, Stoudemire, who in all likelihood will pursue a $20+ million per year contract in 2010, and whose current annual salary exceeds $15 million per year, assumed the requisite level of responsibility for a wealthy young celebrity:

"Half the time, it's pretty much on me, but I'm not a captain. So you can't put too much of the blame on me. It's not my job to rally the troops and get everybody on board. It's the captains' job to do that. I pretty much play my position. I go out there and play hard and try to lead us in scoring and try to do the intangibles. I try to get better defensively, and I have gotten better defensively."

So a 6’10” defensive liability who doesn’t hit the boards very hard, who’s biding his time at just $15 million per year, and waiting until he can demand $20 million on the open market, openly admits that he is absolutely not a leader and has no interest in doing any more than the bare minimum for his team? Stoudemire was captain last season, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that his teammates did not vote for him as one of their captains again this season, opting instead for Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Shaquille O'Neal.

Before slamming Amar’e Stoudemire too hard, consider this…

There’s never a shortage of elite athletes showing their fallibility, but Amar’e’s done something particularly interesting- he’s acted his age. If we look past the celebrity and the money, Amar’e Stoudemire is just a product of "Generation Y", feeling that his "special" talents should transcend his shortcomings. While he is blessed with the physical tools to excel in an exceptionally lucrative field, without a basketball in his hands, he’s nothing more than an all-too-human 26 year-old guy- one that, while very talented, carries with him an immense, long-engrained sense of entitlement and nothing higher than a high school education.

And since it’s unlikely to affect his starting spot on an NBA team, or his future earning potential, why the hell should he care?

Before we go way overboard in reaction to Amar’e’s proclamation, we’ve got a question to answer first- what exactly were we expecting?

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