Every time I do one of these criticism-based pieces, I must preface them with the proverbial, "I'm not a hater," disclaimer. So consider that previous sentence this piece's informing of impartiality. I had originally put this idea off because I had found better things about which to essay. But with the recent announcing of the Association's all-star starters for this year, it must be shared. After the random picture, let's get to it...
Amar'e Stoudemire is a freakishly gifted athlete playing power forward. When he made Michael Olowokandi a poster in his rookie season, he seemed poised to spearhead the second coming of the power forward. However, my beef with Amar'e is that while he is an offensive battering ram with vertical rocket fuel, he seems to only showcase it when he can be awesome. To put it simply, he'll only try hard when it looks good.
Stoudemire plays no defense, and with all that athleticism, only manages eight rebounds a game. To give a comparison, Dwight Howard, who is the only big man that rivals Amar'e in physical gift, leads the Association in rebounds. For all of Howard's playfulness, he'll still dunk on you and play defense and rebound. Amar'e, for whatever reason, is only concerned with matters pertaining to the dunk.
I maintain that if it were not for his knee injury three seasons ago, he would never have developed the solid medium range jumper that he now has. Once his flight was taken away from him, Stoudemire saw his basketball soul flash before his eyes; and he found cause to add a newer, more fundamental dimension to his game.
So what needs to be done? What needs to happen that will compel Amar'e to commit to defense and rebounding in thought, word, and deed? I firmly believe he needs to be embarrassed by someone, and on a big stage. He either needs to be dunked on, or put through the ringer for a playoff series. David Lee did the former, and Tim Duncan does the latter on the regular; but Tim Duncan does that to everyone so it goes without mention. I mean it needs to be blatantly obvious that Amar'e is getting destroyed by an opposing player, and the media can't let him escape the criticism. Maybe then it'll be implanted in his head that he isn't elite until he competes on both ends of the floor and do the grimey work that doesn't make the highlights. Your move, STAT.