36 unbothered: Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire mend relationship with Suns

Sep 29, 2023, 4:20 PM

Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire of the Suns...

Shawn Marion #31 and Amare Stoudemire #1 of the Phoenix Suns reach for a rebound against Andre Bogut #6 of the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center on January 22, 2008 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Devin Booker left the Phoenix Suns’ second elimination game blowout loss in the conference semifinals without saying a word. At least to the media.

He went into the offseason without addressing what happened, both after the game and at exit interviews the next day, only posting a vague social media post “36 unbothered” afterward, two days following the firing of head coach Monty Williams. What was first speculated by fans as a reference to his and Kevin Durant’s added-up jersey numbers was later corrected by Booker: He was just cruising through 36 holes of golf.

Regardless, he unknowingly created a nickname for the Suns’ superstar duo in the process.

To keep us occupied until the Oct. 24 season opener against the Golden State Warriors, which is 25 days away from Friday, Empire of the Suns podcast co-hosts Kellan Olson and Kevin Zimmerman will be joined by Arizona Sports contributor Erik Ruby to dish on 36 key storylines for Phoenix’s 2023-24 season.

Previously –

Day 36: Devin Booker enters his prime
Day 35: The Suns have put in the work this summer
Day 34: Suns do have some continuity with returning bench players
Day 33: Kevin Durant gets integrated
Day 32: Bradley Beal proving something
Day 31: How the Big 3 develop chemistry

Day 30: Mat Ishbia’s first full season as owner
Day 29: How does Suns’ place of play change without Chris Paul
Day 28: Suns can maximize Yuta Watanabe in proper role
Day 27: Deandre Ayton finally is traded
Day 26: Who is Suns’ biggest threat in Western Conference?

Day 25: The Suns’ belated Ring of Honor additions

Erik Ruby: What an incredible combination Suns fans will get this season. Not only will the franchise have title expectations fitting for their star-filled roster, but Phoenix and new governor Mat Ishbia also have the franchise honoring its past.

Of course, the big news is that both Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion will be additions to the Suns’ Ring of Honor, paying homage to one of the most important eras in Suns history, albeit a little bit late.

“What was the hold-up?”

That was the sentiment Marion shared with Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo when he learned about his induction. You can’t blame Matrix for feeling that way considering he ranks fifth in points (12,134), second in rebounds (6,616), second in steals (1,245) and third in blocks (894) in team history. The same goes for Stoudemire, who ranks seventh in points (11,035), fifth in scoring average (21.4), third in rebounds (4,613) and fifth in blocks (722).

I’ll let Book sum it up:

These easy decisions for Ishbia and the franchise should snowball into a level of buy-in from former and current Suns that was not there with the previous regime.

Not only will two new members be added to the Ring of Honor, Phoenix is changing the entire display for current members as well.

There are many reasons to be excited about the revamping of the Ring of Honor by itself, but this should be ignored: It appears that the Suns are past the days of awkward, post-playing relationships with their stars.

Kevin Zimmerman: Marion and Stoudemire were both beneficiaries of Steve Nash and catalysts for the former Suns point guard to earn two MVPs.

They are top-10 in numerous franchise categories.

More than anything, they were two of the most unique athletes with the most unique skillsets in NBA history. Marion held up against bigger bodies but could sprint with guards and jump twice in the same time it took others to jump once.

Stoudemire’s high-post faceup game can’t be replicated because, well, nobody can go from a standstill to getting his hips by someone without even taking a dribble like that. And then he’d power through bigs’ chests in mid-air to hammer a dunk. They don’t get credit for how skilled they were. Low-key, Stoudemire developed an elite midrange jumper, while Marion’s funky three-point shot was just good enough to keep people honest.

Stoudemire and Marion spanned an electric era of Suns basketball. Paired with Nash’s wizardry and coach Mike D’Antoni’s pace, they helped changed the game. But in a vacuum, Stoudemire and Marion as individuals deserve to be mentioned in their own right.

How silly is it that the Robert Sarver-led Suns were so spiteful about how each of their tenures ended not to honor that sooner?

Kellan Olson: It’s a shame it took this long and couldn’t come along naturally but I’m glad it got done. For a generation of Suns fans, these guys were icons. Nash was the star who made everything happen, but Stoudemire and Marion were his explosive, highlight-reel producing co-captains. Both are underrated in basketball lore.

With a complete understanding of who else played the power forward position, Stoudemire was on his way to becoming one of the five best ever before his knees started giving him serious problems. The coming out party of his third season saw him routinely matching in-their-primes Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan through duels that were must-watch television. Stoudemire was only 22 years old. Think about that! Alas, the knee injury came and he still went to be a fantastic player who developed a complete mid-post game that every single modern big should meticulously study. Stoudemire fine-tuned that year after year, getting more effective even when his quickness started fading, with the same roaring rolls to the rim as Nash’s screening partner we got from the jump.

Marion is one of the franchise’s all-time defenders and it is an absolute crime he never made an All-Defense team, thanks to the Suns’ poor team defensive stats that voters couldn’t get past. Marion is 12th in league history for the number of games (40) with at least three steals and three blocks, per Stathead. The next three guys ahead of him on that leaderboard are Michael Jordan, Garnett and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was an awesome rebounder and underrated scorer. A winning player in every sense that thankfully got a championship before his career was all said and done.

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36 unbothered: Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire mend relationship with Suns