Amar’e Stoudemire on upcoming Suns Ring of Honor induction: ‘I was basically raised there’
Aug 11, 2023, 10:18 AM
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Amar’e Stoudemire figured his place in Phoenix Suns history would warrant a nod from the franchise that drafted him.
Steve Nash, the figurehead of the Seven Seconds or Less era that put Phoenix in the NBA spotlight for a half-decade in the 2010s, already got his flowers as a 2015 Suns Ring of Honor addition.
So when the team announced this week that Nash’s former teammates Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire would join him in the Footprint Center rafters at some point in 2023-24, it wasn’t so much a surprise.
But it still hit him in the feels.
“I was basically raised there,” Stoudemire told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “I was a high school kid from Florida who was drafted to Phoenix. I made Phoenix my home. I didn’t even travel in the offseason, I stayed there in the summertime and trained there. My children were born there. Phoenix to me is my home, it’s a place that’s so close my heart.
“It’s very, very close to my heart.”
Time and change in leadership made honoring the duo easier after each had their not-so-clean departures from the Valley.
Stoudemire said that, like Marion, he got the news of the plan for his honor via a phone call from new Suns owner Mat Ishbia.
“I was actually out celebrating my son’s birthday the exact same day I got the call,” Stoudemire said. “Mat called me, said, ‘Amar’e, we got good news for you.’ And he was saying that ‘we’re going to honor you, long overdue, very well-respected, but you deserve to be in the ring of honor.’ And at that moment I was, like, so excited.
“It was my son’s birthday, my son’s named after me, I’m going into the ring of honor on the same day — it’s like a beautiful moment. After all the years to not get that call, to get that call on my son’s birthday was very special to me.”
But again, he thought it would happen one day.
While Stoudemire was drafted in 2002 and immediately experienced the playoffs in his rookie year alongside Marion and All-Star Stephon Marbury, it was 2004-05 that historically goes down as an important marker in basketball playing history.
The Suns punched the pace with a re-signed Nash.
The starting lineup of the trio of Suns-drafted players were joined by Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson, two versatile starters who gave the team three-point spacing, but not-respected-enough defensive versatility and playmaking as well.
The team was “10 years ahead of its time” according to Stoudemire. It led to a change in league pace overall and the focus on three-point shooting and scoring at the rim over the midrange shot.
“I express it all the time to my friends, like, it’s like playing a game where no one can even keep up with you,” Stoudemire said as the traditionally undersized 2004-05 Suns took the league by storm, running off makes as well as misses and firing more than anyone from three-point range.
“Every position from the point guard with Steve being in top shape to Shawn being one of the fastest … forwards to ever play and then myself being a versatile 5, 4/5 position guy, you know, it was just like the pace we played at was unstoppable man. We were blowing teams out by 20 points, we were resting in the fourth quarter. We would go out together as a team and have fun, the camaraderie was great. It was a beautiful time of basketball for us.”
Stoudemire made six All-Star teams, five as a member of the Suns. He departed in 2010 for the New York Knicks amid a contract dispute with then-owner Robert Sarver.
In eight seasons with the Suns, he averaged 21.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. He is top-five in career scoring average, total rebounds and total blocks in franchise history.