Amar’e Stoudemire was there when the Phoenix Suns convinced Steve Nash to sign with the team in summer 2004.
He was there, on the court with him, in two of the three Western Conference Finals appearances the Suns made from then until 2010.
The two made multiple Western Conference All-Star teams and, together — along with Shawn Marion and others — helped make the Suns one of the NBA’s best and most exciting teams.
Saturday, in a letter, Nash announced his retirement from the NBA.
Part of it read:
“What do they say about men with big hands? They have quick feet? A’mare Stoudemire had both — and he made me look like an artist at times. Thanks, big man.”
“It’s unbelievable,” Stoudemire said Sunday about Nash pointing him out in the letter. “When you’re playing basketball, in the season or in the moment, you don’t realize exactly what you’re doing or how you’re affecting the world of basketball.
“When it’s over, then you realize that was a very, very special moment so now we get a chance to sit back and just think about all that, that that was a special moment not only for Steve and myself, but for basketball.”
Stoudemire’s Mavericks were taking on the Suns in Phoenix, giving the veteran a perfect opportunity to reflect on his former teammate.
Drafted ninth overall in 2002 straight out of high school, Stoudemire spent the first eight seasons of his NBA career in Phoenix. Six of them were with Nash, with whom he became one-half of the game’s most dangerous pick-and-roll combination.
During those years, Stoudemire averaged 23.21 points per game and the Suns had an incredible run of prosperity. Their fast-paced style helped change the game, and they were truly must-watch TV.
But that all came to an end in summer 2010, when Stoudemire left for New York as a free agent. The Suns have not been back to the playoffs since, Nash struggled with injuries toward the end of his run and Stoudemire’s career hasn’t at all been the same.
“It was a great combination, it was something that was magical,” he said of things not being the same without Nash. “And again, when you play, in the moment sometimes you don’t realize how special that moment truly is until it’s over. So that was a time of, in the game of basketball, where we were at an all-time high, not only as the Phoenix Suns but also as individual players and as a team it was one of those moments you will never forget.”
The Suns had win totals of 62, 61, 55 and 54 with a healthy Stoudemire and Nash. As Nash wrote in his letter, he couldn’t have done it without Stoudemire. The forward feels the same way.
“One of the greatest point guards of all time, if you ask me,” he said of what he thinks of Nash. “I think he played the game the way the game should be played. He’s a team-first kind of guy, he’s the ultimate team player. Maybe one of the greatest shooters in the game of basketball, but was reluctant to shoot because he wanted his teammates to get a lot of shine and glory.
“So he made the best out of all of us. All of us thrived and improved because of him, and vice versa.”