Wednesday , Jan , 23 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

On Egos and Trash Talking: Let’s Compare and Contrast Gilbert Arenas with Amaré Stoudemire

On Egos and Trash Talking: Let's Compare and Contrast Gilbert Arenas with Amaré StoudemireA little while back, I wrote that Agent Zero’s smack-talking days were coming to an end and said that he should cozy up next to Fonzie on the other side of the shark.  Shortly after I wrote that article, I called Bluntman (who vehemently disagreed with me on this point) to proclaim myself a prophet.  Karma sent Jeff Gillooly after Arenas and Gillooly caught up with him.  Recently, the Gilbert-less Wizards took two from the Celtics – but they couldn’t seem to do it with Gilbert still there.  Nonetheless, he contends that the Wizards cannot go any further without him.  He cites the current standings this year compared to the same time last year, without accounting for the rise of the Celtics and the Magic not yet in freefall as they were at this time last year.

After leaving Las Vegas this summer, Amaré Stoudemire proclaimed his happiness at not being a Charlotte Bobcat:

Stoudemire was asked if it would be hard to return to the Suns. "Not at all," he answered. "I could see that if I was going back to the (Charlotte) Bobcats. I’m going back to the Phoenix Suns, baby!"

I laugh every time I reread that quote.  I like the fact that he slams the Bobcats. I like the fact that he calls out Bruce Bowen. I like the fact that he gives the other team Bulletin Board Material. I like the fact that he gets emotional with teammates. He makes the game fun and he is more than willing to put the Suns on his back.

He talked about getting better on defense this year, and he has.  Frankly, he had nowhere to go but up.  Like the Gin Blossoms sing, “If you don’t expect too much from me, you will not be let down.”  He’s averaging 2.2 blocks per game (his highest average before that was 1.6, with a career average of only 1.2) and almost a steal per game.  That’s better defense.  When he wants to – or remembers – he can keep his man out of the low post.  The rub for Suns’ fans is that he shows he can do it, but does not do it consistently.  He will work on consistency.  He does that.

He still takes stupid fouls.  Sometimes, it does seem as if he gets phantom calls, but the stupid fouls he takes are usually so stupid that he deserves two fouls for the stupidity.  So, it all evens out.

Stoudemire probably talks too much too, and he’s probably not applying for membership in Mensa anytime in the near future.  But, you know what?  He backs up his words with his play.  Tonight, in a win over the Bucks, he scored 19 points on 8 (read that – eight) field goal attempts.  He grabbed his tenth rebound when he only had nine points (he finished with 12) and he tallied 3 blocks.  He had 10 points in the 4th period when the Suns needed him most.

Amaré has not led his team to the Promised Land yet, but they cannot get there without him and he knows that.  The Suns have only lost one game when he goes for twenty and ten.  Allegations of “chemistry” issues lose validity when one considers that (after Grant Hill took a short leave of absence), Amaré only took the third-most shots on the team, but is shooting 58%.  On any other team, he would be scoring 30 points a night.

The Wizards seem to be closer this year without Arenas, even with Boston surging in the win column.  Funny how passing the ball around seems to get other guys good looks.

Talk is fun, and, while egos are a necessity in professional sports, the talk is not.  So, take the ego and use it to your advantage, but don’t talk unless you can back it up.