Why The Suns Need To Induct Shawn Marion Into The 'Ring of Honor'
Drafted by the Suns with the 9th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Shawn Marion spent his first nine seasons in Phoenix before being traded to the Miami Heat. Steve Kerr, executive at the time, stated he’d either be known as a genius or a moron for the decision; the move became moronic rather quickly.
Dealing an essential piece of those glory days Suns for an old, fading version of Shaquille O’Neal was not a smart move, and it didn’t pay off. It broke up the “Big 3” of Marion, Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire, bringing an end to a highly competitive and enjoyable era of Suns' basketball.
“The Matrix” was incredibly fun to watch and much more valuable to the 'Seven Seconds or Less' (SSOL) Suns than given credit for. He was also one of the most underrated defenders in NBA history; his positional versatility was ahead of his time.
If it’s on your mind, don’t let it be. Steve Nash did not “make” Marion, as he did for the other players’ careers that he ran with. Marion was already made before Nash arrived, making his first All-Star game before Steve made his return to the desert. “The Nash Rambler” no doubt made him better and helped cement his value, but “The Matrix” was plenty capable of elevating himself.
Before you make the mistake that he “disappeared” in the playoffs for the Suns - as I often hear some rather foolish people say - look at the numbers:
Regular Season with Phoenix:
48/34/82 shooting (FG%/3PT%/FT%)
18.4 pts, 10.0 rebs, 2.0 asts, 1.9 stls and 1.4 blks
Playoffs with Phoenix:
46/34/81 shooting (FG%/3PT%/FT%)
17.1 pts, 10.9 rebs, 1.4 asts, 1.5 stls and 1.5 blks
He teamed up with Nash and Stoudemire to form one of the greatest offensive squads of all time. Stoudemire was a flashy, mobile big man with an impressive half-court repertoire, while Nash was the MVP and train conductor. However, Marion was the heart and soul of those Phoenix teams, and his significance to those squads has been severely understated.
Marion needs a lot more credit for his impact on those Suns. He was the glue guy who kept everything together on both ends of the court.
He could fill almost any role on the offensive end, but on the defensive end is where he was an absolute menace. Steve and Amar'e were not great defenders, and thus Marion's versatility was extremely valuable to those Suns; he could shut down forwards and even some centers in the post, keep up with speedy wings, and switch over onto guards as well. He was athletic, long and strong, with an elite ability to play the passing lanes; The Matrix was constantly picking up steals and deflections while also making accurate outlet passes in transition.
Even though he didn’t earn all the accolades he deserved (he wasn’t named to All-Defensive Teams or Defensive Player of the Year like he should have been on multiple occasions), he was one of the most effective stoppers the league has ever seen.
Marion went to work, got the job done, and didn’t complain. He turned in one season after another that was historically unique, with his his unorthodox playing style paving the way for the NBA's future positional “tweeners” to succeed.
Marion's name is all over the franchise’s all-time leaderboards; he ranks 1st in win shares, Value over Replacement Player (VORP) and defensive rebounds. He’s second in defensive win shares, steals, offensive rebounds, total rebounds, minutes played and BPM (Box Plus/Minus). He’s also third in field goals and blocks, and fourth in points and offensive win shares.
There is no doubt that he should get inducted into the Phoenix Suns’ Ring of Honor and have his number retired. It’s not even up for debate - he’s one of the best players to ever don purple and orange and it is way past time for him to get what he deserves. He himself said that he’s looked up at the Ring during visits to Phoenix and thought that it would be hard to not have him up there when you look at what he accomplished for the franchise. I agree.
The league should notice the gesture and consider him as a potential candidate for entrance into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. His is a very interesting and complex case, but when you look at his career numbers and how he paved the way for modern day forwards, it's relatively easy to make the case that belongs in the Hall.
Only two players in NBA history have ever averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block per game over a five-year stretch: Hakeem Olajuwon and Shawn Marion. That’s it. There's your Hall of Fame argument - never mind the 'Ring of Honor'.
Thank you, Shawn, for all the memories. You were one of my favorite players, and I hope the Suns and the league get you taken care of real soon.