"Shawn Marion will be traded and exposed. And if it doesn’t happen this year, this one will happen at some point, because the media has convinced this man that he’s better than he really is. They’ve also convinced all of you of the same thing. Listen, Shawn Marion is an amazing athlete with freakishly long arms, who can get off the ground quicker than most and has a nose for the ball and can play in the lights. But there’s always a guy like that in the league. Would you really build your offense around him, though? Would you depend on him to put your team on his back and score 25-30 a night? Not with that jump shot, you shouldn’t. But at least one general manager is going to do exactly that."
I posted those words on June 29, 2007 as one of my predictions for the upcoming NBA season, and while it wasn't something as obvious as Kobe or Garnett demanding trades, it was something that I had seen coming since Amare Stoudamire emerge as a dominant force in Phoenix. Keep in mind, I don't have any insight into that locker room. I've never met Shawn Marion. But I wasn't the least bit surprised when I heard that Marion and Stoudamire were feuding out there. Kenny Smith had been blowing Marion's head up since he came into the league, tagging him with that stupid nickname, and everyone jumped on board the bandwagon without realizing that he had an incomplete game.
First, let's get something straight: This is NOT like the Joe Johnson situation. That's been the comparison people have made, and it is not the same thing. The jokes have been funny, but let's be serious: Shawn Marion is not the player that Joe Johnson is.
Don't get me wrong: Shawn Marion is a good player. Most teams would be glad to have a guy like him. He's a great defender and rebounder with his speed and the aforementioned freakishly long arms. He goes after any ball you put above the rim and brings down almost all of them. One thing that no one can take away from Shawn Marion, he's an incredible athlete. Well, no one except Father Time or whoever cursed Shawn Livingston.
Joe Johnson on the other hand, is a complete basketball player. The man can score in a variety of ways and is capable of being the focal point of an offense. His game doesn't depend on flashy dunks and someone else getting him the ball. Joe Johnson can take the ball and make something happen. Shawn Marion is not that kind of player. Shawn Marion is completely dependent on his point guard, in this case, Steve Nash. At one point, it was Stephon Marbury. After playing with a ball-hog like that, that fact that we even know Shawn Marion's name is impressive.
So let's stop filling Marion's head with nonsense. Someone sit this guy down and say to him, "Are you aware that your shot is horrible and it only goes in because no one's defending it?" "You do realize that you're not a number one option for a reason, right?" "It is only by the grace of Nash that you have a max deal in this league. Fundamentally, there's no difference between you and Donald Royal."
Seriously...offensively speaking, there isn't much that Shawn Marion does that can't be found somewhere else. There are three guys on Phoenix's roster right now who can do the same things as Marion, in addition to being able to shoot, pass, and dribble (Stoudamire, Grant Hill, Boris Diaw). Defensively, the only difference between Marion and Raja Bell is that Raja Bell is two inches shorter. That's about it. Kobe is still going to drop 50 points, so it doesn't matter which guy you put on him.
Joe Johnson leaving Phoenix means he can finally show what he can do and has a legitimate chance at stardom in this league. Shawn Marion leaving Phoenix means in five years, we'll be asking "What ever happened to Shawn Marion?"
But should Phoenix trade him or let him go?
I must be on crack for even asking that. His strengths compliment the system the Suns are running and his weaknesses are covered, even if that jump shot isn't. I don't care how unhappy he is, as long as his black ass is out there catching lobs from Steve Nash. He doesn't see it, but Phoenix is saving him from himself, because the second he's no longer playing with someone who can make him look good, like Steve Nash, he's going to become the answer to a trivia question, like Sam Bowie. Question: Who's the dumbest basketball player of the new millennium? Answer: Shawn Marion. Note to Marion: Practice having a mid-range game before you start bombing threes.
I can understand a desire to be "the man" in pro sports. Everyone wants to a chance to be that guy, but everyone's not equipped to be that guy. Some guys are "glue guys," and he's paid very well to be that guy. A little too well. Someone smack Shawn Marion for not even realizing how lucky he is to be in this position.