Lazy. Disinterested. Noncommittal. Bad. All of these words and more have been used to describe the defensive play of the Phoenix Suns and their star forward Amar’e (apostrophe please) Stoudemire. A certain Hall of Fame center with four championship rings to his name used some of them when he played in Phoenix, thinking that some public discussion of the Suns defensive principles might help to improve his team. It didn’t.
What would Shaq have called this play, Amar’e trailing Bucks center Andrew Bogut on a breakaway dunk?
“Passive-aggressive” comes to mind. Dangerous. The preliminary reports say that Andrew Bogut’s right elbow was “slightly” dislocated in the fall. X-Rays revealed no broken bones. There’s no word yet on how long Bogut will be out, or whether he’ll be back in time for the playoffs, which begin in two weeks.
Stoudemire was assessed a flagrant foul for the shove in Bogut’s back on the breakaway. The discussion is already centered on whether or not Stoudemire intended to foul or injure the Bucks center. Of course he didn’t intentionally put his arm into the back of Bogut in midair. Of course he didn’t intend for Bogut to fall the way he did.
Such intentions would have required commitment, and Ama’re Stoudemire isn’t committed to playing defense, much less running hard down the court to the defensive end.
No hard fouls from this guy. No flying, Lebron James-like attempt to block the shot into the next county. Not Ama’re.
There’s no commitment to laziness, either. You see Ama’re running with Bogut, too late, trying to catch up, failing, but catching just enough of his quarry to lay an arm on his back and shove — not a hard, committed shove — just a little one, enough to throw Bogut off balance and flatten his jump, pushing his legs out of equilibrium. A committed lazy player would have given up and watched Bogut dunk it. But not Ama’re.
Amar’e Stoudemire on defense apparently can’t seem to commit to laziness or a foul. Or, as we all saw in the 2007 Western Conference semifinal vs. the Spurs, to leaving the bench during a fight. He … kinda left the bench but … kinda didn’t. He not only missed the fight but the next game, as the NBA suspended him for leaving the bench and the Suns lost the series. He didn’t “intend” to commit that wrong either.
So Amar’e didn’t “intend” to commit a foul that caused a potential season-ending injury to a would-be All-Pro center with the playoffs approaching. I get that.
It’s typical Ama’re — forever doomed to be a half-baked star in a league of fully committed stars. And once again, he’s wrong.
AP recap: Bucks 107, Suns 98.
Note: I wrote this post during the 2nd half of the Bucks-Suns game and had it posted within an hour or so after the game, if not sooner. It accurately summed up how I feel about Amar’e as a player, and still does a few days after the injury. The video of Bogut’s fall that I posted initially was the video clip of the Suns live broadcast because it was the only one I could initially find online. However, as fans all over the country debated the play, how Bogut’s fall became so horrific and whether Ama’re had done anything wrong, it occurred to me that people probably weren’t looking at the same video. The comments have been that divergent.
There are in fact, two videos offering two different views of the play. What I’ll do here is post both videos. The FoxSportsNorth Bucks broadcast, which shows in slo-mo the contact and the timing of when and why Bogut grabs the rim, is embedded above. The Suns broadcast, which has been the more widely viewed video, is below.