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Burns: Amar’e Stoudemire – Do you trust him?

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies goes something like this:

“Trust. It seems to me that if there were any logic to our language, trust would be a four letter word.”

It’s from the Tom Cruise classic (and it’s not often I get to use those three words in the same sentence) Risky Business. While vacationing, his parents “trust” him with the house; if only they knew he turned their home into a brothel to help pay for their Porsche that he just sunk to the bottom of Lake Michigan (“Whose the U-boat commander?” asks the repair-shop-guy. Honestly, outside of Jerry McGuire, I don’t think Cruise was in a better movie than Risky Business.)

And I picked that line because that’s my issue with Amar’e Stoudemire right now: Trust. Do I trust him? Trust him with a max contract? Trust him to be this focused, this dedicated, this healthy, and this impactful? Do you? Joel Goodson had it right; trust is a four letter word. Because here’s the deal – you might have to trust him. That dunk the other night against Golden State might have cost the Suns millions and millions of Robert Sarver’s dollars.

Surely by now you’ve seen it a dozen times over, but just in case, here it is again. Right now, on this here Web site you can vote on whether it was Stoudemire’s best dunk…..ever. It was a crescendo moment (how it finished 3rd on Plays of the Night, I’ll never know). It electrified and potentially unified a divided audience. The dude who lived in the TRADE AMAR’E camp probably spent all night and into the morning wondering if it’s too late to move to the PAY THE MAN camp. I’m fighting the urge to switch sides.

He’s done nothing but left you wanting more since his rookie season. After all these years filled with flashes of brilliance, indifference, injuries and flat out laziness, he’s finally giving you more. Do you trust him to be this guy….all the time? The simple truth is: I don’t. I don’t trust Amar’e with max money. It doesn’t take a whole lot for me to envision him reverting back to that grind-your-teeth-in-the-middle-of-the-night player we’ve lived with all these years.

But in the middle of my inner monologue about Amar’e, you have to realize there’s a healthy dose of fear mixed in there too. Fear that he really has grown up. Fear that he finally understands. If he has truly reached that point in his life the Suns will have an arena filled with regret for not maxing him out. It’s in this fear that we have a little history.

It reminds me quite a bit of the situation the D-backs were in with Brandon Webb. While the Suns are wondering if they can trust Stoudemire’s heart the D-backs were wondering if they could trust Webb’s shoulder. Shoulder surgery of any kind is like spinning the ball on the roulette wheel. It’s tricky. It’s uncertain. When they picked up that $8.5 million dollar option they did so basically blindfolded. I mean, you’re already giving Eric Byrnes money for nothing; you can’t afford to do the same with Webb. But they weighed that risk against the fear that Webb would leave, sign elsewhere and return to Cy Young award form in somebody else’s threads. It wasn’t worth the chance, so the team picked up the option. I don’t think they regret it yet, but they have absolutely no idea at all when he’ll be able to pitch for them.

(I know, I know, there’s a humongo difference between the 8.5 million bucks that Webby is getting vs. the tens of millions Amare will get as a max player. It’s not a perfect comparison I realize but I still think the comparison is, nuts and bolts, the same.)

Regret is a nasty word. And just like the word “trust”, it too should be a four letter word. The Suns could regret giving Amar’e the Brinks truck. They could regret watching him leave in a moving truck. Perhaps by the end of the playoffs I will have seen enough to change my mind, but for now – even after turning Anthony Tolliver into a poster – Amar’e has yet to earn my trust.

UPDATE: After looking at Tom Cruise’s page, I’ll admit, I was a little hard on him. Risky Business, Color of Money, Rain Man, Few Good Men, Minority Report, Magnolia and Collateral were all good flicks. And yes, I did intend to leave Top Gun off the list.