If 300 colorful letters arrive at the Suns office soon, imploring the Suns to keep Amaré Stoudemire, the impetus came Tuesday at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.
In a lengthy lecture to the school's 300 children about education, Stoudemire mentioned he might be in Phoenix only one more year. State representative Cloves Campbell Jr. then urged the kids to write the Suns about the need to keep Stoudemire, saying: "I don't care if you write in crayon. We're getting those letters to the Suns."
After his talk, Stoudemire reflected on his statement about leaving next year - he could choose to become a free agent by opting out of his final contract year.
"This might be my farewell tour, huh?" Stoudemire said. "If so, I'm going out with a bang, baby."
Stoudemire has been working out at US Airways Center, moving to the court last week as he progresses from a torn retina in his right eye.
After lingering fluid was removed from the eye July 10, Stoudemire spent 22 hours a day face down for 10 days. It forced him to reflect and re-examine.
"I cherish the moment," he said. "Because I feel like if I had to retire because of the injury, how will my legacy be? Will I be a Hall of Famer? Would I have a championship? Is my legacy what I dreamed it to be? At that point of time, I'd say no. So now, I'm back with a vengeance. I want to make sure that my legacy is starting to build. It is going to start this year."
He never considered retiring, but the gravity of his eye injury reminded him how tenuous his time in the spotlight can be. Stoudemire has much to prove, whether it is being a better defender, rebounder and leader, or that his health (eye or knees) holds long enough for a lucrative, long-term deal.
Many feel Stoudemire is motivated by his contract situation. He said that is not the case. He points to the improvement over his career to show that his hard work of late is no different than in prior years.
"That's the one thing I wanted to show the staff - that I'm dedicated," Stoudemire said. "I'm ready to take that step to making it back to the playoffs and to be that force that I was before the Terry Porter era."
The Suns will not enter contract-extension talks with Stoudemire until they see his return to action. Stoudemire said that takes the pressure off him but for becoming more of a leader. At 26, he has been in the NBA longer than nine of his teammates.
"They call me 'Sun Tzu,' " Stoudemire said. "That's what they call me nowadays. The methods I use from the ancient general, Sun Tzu, is the leadership method. I feel like using that will help my leadership and help us to get over the hump. I'm going to apply those tactics and those rules to how we're going to approach battle and win."
Stoudemire's fourth head coach, Alvin Gentry, keeps daily communication with his star. Stoudemire said his relationship with Gentry is his best with a coach since his original professional coach, Frank Johnson. He believes the Suns can be a surprise in a year when most see them as a fringe playoff team.
"Obviously, we're not the Lakers," he said. "We're not Boston. We're not those elite teams who are over the salary cap, but we are a threat. Anytime you have Steve Nash and Amaré Stoudemire on the team, we're a force to be reckoned with."
By his logic, winning will dictate his decision on a 2010-11 NBA home.
"If we're not making the playoffs, my legacy is going backwards," he said. "I'm not having it."
Nah, he's mentioned that he wants to stay a Sun for the rest of his career. The FO wants to see him play before they talk about contract extension and he will play really well to earn that contract. Hopefully we do decide to keep him cause he can be a really good PF. Top 5 at best. He can still be a force. Getting rid of him will mean we have to big men to even contend against the other big men of the league.
He didn't really hint at leaving though. It seems as though he thinks the FO will not sign him again.
sucks because kerr and sarver always make horrible decisions, they sign the cheapest veterans they can, they let go of vauable players because of financial issues and then sarver claims he is not money motivated, instead it's a hobby for him...yeah, right.
amar'e remaining a sun or not won't be a huge impact, we might make the playoffs but we'll be stuck at making them, which is better than not making them, but we have the oppurtunity to sign better players to surround amar'e and have a real elite team. nash isn't much of a threat anymore, he still has those killer passes and that lethal shot, but age overcomes everyone.
w/e, i'm still excited for this season to begin, it's going to be a hell of a season, not only because we have several teams that will scrap to make the finals, but there will be 1000 superstars in the nba trying to play 110% to get that big contract, including amar'e.