This is it, folks. All you need to know about where Shawn Marion is mentally with regard to his team these days in one sentence (followed by extraneous verbiage from yours truly, of course).
ESPN has reported that the Heat and Suns are discussing a potential trade that would send Shaquille O'Neal to the Suns in exchange for Marion and Marcus Banks. That isn't even the sentence in question, but please, take a moment to let that sink in.
That should be the focus of this piece. That the Suns are actually considering making a move like this, a move that would make such little basketball sense, given that the 35-year-old Shaq doesn't fit their system, and they already have one of the league's brightest young big man who does.
Instead, it all comes down to this phrase:
A source close to Marion tells ESPN the Magazine's Ric Bucher that the Suns forward is in favor of the proposed trade.
The truly sad part of this is that for those who have followed Marion and the Suns over the past couple of seasons, this doesn't even come as much of a surprise.
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Admittedly, I could be taking a big risk here and being extraordinarily presumptuous about Marion and his desires. Perhaps he just has an affinity for the wonders of South Beach. Or maybe he has family in Miami. Or some other innocent enough reason.
But given the man's history, that is a risk I'm willing to take.
The man they call the Matrix in Phoenix has a well-documented track record of not being able to handle what he perceives as being under-appreciated.
This was clear in Jack McCallum's impeccably written Seven Seconds Or Less, in which McCallum detailed how Marion would pout when the kids dance squads wore the jerseys of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire instead of his during timeouts. And when the Suns' coaching staff would routinely hold out on announcing accolades given to other players (such as Nash's MVP award during that 2005-06 season) until they had a particularly viable compliment for Marion as well, so as not to turn him off.
This was clear back in September when finally he told the Suns he wanted out, which is about when I finally began to believe the guy was truly losing it upstairs. That wonderful episode almost forced the team's hand into trading for the chronically flaky Andrei Kirilenko.
But, if Ric Bucher's sources have given him the right information, this might be the worst of it yet.
Let's consider the situation again: Shawn Marion is likely not just willing but in favor of going to the worst team in the league. To a team with a superstar who is quickly becoming an injury liability, plenty of washed-up veterans and a very confusing future. Given his past issues in Phoenix, the odds are vastly in favor of this being a quest for more individual respect.
Imagine that. The highest-paid player on a team currently in its fourth straight year as a legitimate championship contender isn't getting enough respect. The fact that he is universally regarded as one of the three most important -- and in some circles, one of the two most important -- pieces on that team isn't enough. The fact that he has the coolest nickname in the league isn't enough. The four All-Star selections and the two All-NBA Third Team selections apparently mean nothing. The label as the most versatile and one of the most dangerous players in the league just doesn't do it.
If the money, the individual accolades and the winning within the team aren't doing enough to sate Shawn Marion's need for respect, nothing productive will.
Shawn Marion is one of the best players in all of basketball. And yet reports like this actually make me glad that this guy didn't want to come to Boston back in the day, and that he is the Suns' problem. What a travesty.