Sunday , Mar , 22 , 2009 Oly Sandor

The Matrix is dead: Shawn Marion struggling with Toronto Raptors

Shawn Marion is no longer deserving of his nickname. His high-flying antics are a thing of the past, not because of diminished skill, but because of apathy. On Friday, Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace outworked the forward so badly in the first quarter that Toronto’s coaching staff quickly pulled him in favour of Joey Graham …

The Matrix is dead: Shawn Marion struggling with Toronto RaptorsFind a priest and call the funeral home because ‘The Matrix’ is dead.

(Sci-fi heads should realize I’m referencing the NBA player and not the movie, so, please, don’t expect an article on Morpheus or Neo. The lovely Trinity, well, that could be negotiated.)

Shawn Marion is no longer deserving of his nickname. His high-flying antics are a thing of the past, not because of diminished skill, but because of apathy. On Friday, Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace outworked the forward so badly in the first quarter that Toronto’s coaching staff quickly pulled him in favour of Joey Graham.

Wallace is talented. And he is motivated –the Bobcats are in the hunt for the eight seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. This, however, shouldn’t have been a mismatch.

Unfortunately, it was. Wallace looked like the Marion of yesteryear, the player the Raptors hoped they acquired in February’s blockbuster trade. While Toronto’s current three-man looked like he wanted to be anywhere but the Air Canada Centre, finishing with a paltry four points and six rebounds in a 102-89 loss.

These stat lines have become too common for the former All-Star. Well, why has Marion declined?

Confidence is a funny thing, especially for someone as sensitive as Marion. Even during his Suns heyday, coaches, general managers, and teammates had to reassure him of his talent. But the constant trade rumours, fuelled by his ‘max’ contract, took its toll and Marion’s game declined last year before eventually getting shipped to Miami.

Phoenix was perfect. ‘Seven Seconds To Shoot’ masked Marion’s sub par ball handling and inability to create his own shot. Moreover, Steve Nash’s passing artificially inflated his scoring. Miami and Toronto aren’t running teams and lack an All-Star table-setter, so Marion has been exposed.

Interestingly enough, he hits free agency in July. And Marion will be taking a massive cut on his 17 million dollar per year salary. Part of this can be blamed on the declining economy. Most of this is on Marion, who has become a league enigma.

Right now, he’ll be lucky to fetch the Mid Level Exception. In July of 2003, Juwan Howard signed with Orlando for the MLE after his ‘max’ contract came off Denver’s books. Howard averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds on the season. Most importantly, he was a model citizen for the rebuilding Nuggets. Marion has done none of this.

Today, Marion posted 13 points and 14 rebounds in a win over the lowly Clippers. His numbers and effort were respectable. Still, much more is needed to reclaim ‘The Matrix’ moniker. 

Will Marion ever again become ‘The Matrix’? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA Tidbits. Photo courtesy of phantroll.