He Should've Been Dracula
This being a League of Psychology and all, it's about high time we got to the subject of Shawn Marion's crippling insecurity. Marion is undervalued, but his non-stop plaints and ever-mounting demands have turned him into an accidental egomaniac. He's driven by the bottomless howl of a wounded, the lack of perspective one sees in cases of stubbed toes or bit tongues. Line up all he's said over the last season: does he really think he deserves to be the Suns' highest-paid player, come hell or high water? Steve Nash gets well below his market value, and giving Amare the max is like dumping virgins in the ocean. Marion may get less high-watt exposure than those two, but that doesn't mean Phoenix has to overcompensate by making him into a behind-the-scenes monarch.
Shawn Marion has been blinded by loneliness. Yet in many ways, he has no one to blame but himself. There is no high-flyer more inconspicuous, no dominant presence more understated, than Marion. His game is self-effacing to a fault, and his instincts on the floor continually push him away from the limelight and into the trenches. Rarely do we see him force a shot, or even look to score when not directed to by the logic of a possession. Perhaps his fragility is what led him to this low-risk line of work; certainly, a man prone to melancholic nerves would do well to avoid game-winning field goal attempts or other lodestars of criticism. And yet one can't help but wonder how it is that, if Marion is so gnawed at by his emotions, he's stayed such a good soldier. Henry's compiled some instances of lapses or petulance, but these are a far cry from attention-getting gestures like tantrums or impulsive offense.
The easy answer is that Marion lacks the skills to act out thus. That's partly the case, but isn't self-deception at the root of all unforgivable basketball? Shawn Marion rarely puts the ball on the floor because his very being won't let him; his recent grotesquerie is in fact tragedy, stemmed from an inability to ever buck the game he loves. If Marion's outrage seems twice what it should be, it's because it combines other-directed aggression with self-loathing. And, to be sure, a good deal of anxiety over the fact that basketball's causing him pain. Marion clearly respects the game; otherwise, he wouldn't be capable of playing with such restraint and selflessness. To have his beloved sport mock him so, forcing him to choose between dignity and devotion . . . it's enough to make a man want to run as far away from his situation, even if it involves the Phoenix Suns.