Maybe This Much-Maligned Experiment Will Work After All
As ESPN's Bill Simmons and others have recently noted, the Phoenix Suns' acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal has started to bear fruit in the performance of Amare Stoudemire who, freed from the responsibility of having to pretend to be a center, is now able to roam outside of the paint and catch the ball where he can put his defender at the biggest disadvantage. And O'Neal himself seems to be playing himself into post-season shape. Last night he went for 20 points and 12 rebounds against the Nuggets, nicely complementing Stoudemire's MVP-caliber 40 points and 14 rebounds. Oh, and Steve Nash had 36 points and 8 assists himself. Let's not forget, either, that a big reason the Suns are in the position they are now can be attributed to the savvy off-season acquisition of Grant Hill, who has managed to remind us how great he could have been, had the injuries not derailed his career, and how good he still can be. I do think, though, that between Stoudemire's recovery from microfracture surgery, Nash's capacity to cope with chronic back pain, O'Neal's surprising resurgence and Hill's suddenly improved luck, the Suns would be advised not to add any more players with physiological question marks to their roster. It's only a matter of time before the fixation on performance enhancement lights upon the NBA. To think that the days of careers damaged and destroyed by cocaine now inspire a nostalgia for a simpler time. . .