Interview with Shawn Marion

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Despite what anyone says, the former Phoenix Suns' power forward was more than just Nash and Amare's sidekick. Shawn goes out and grinds as hard for his team-if not harder-than anyone in the league; and the dude wants a little respect for the big things he's done lately. How this guy isn't recognized as one of the best in the NBA is tougher to understand than that Daddy Yankee song you've been bobbin' your head to.

21.8 ppg—11.8 rpg—1.98 spg That's Shawn's stat line from the '05-'06 season—the one in which he helped advance the Suns to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Along the way, he racked up 60 double-doubles (only two behind leader Kevin Garnett), made the Top 10 in most of the league's statistical categories (third in boards and steals per game), and led all players in total efficiency points—a rating that takes into account every positive and negative stat a player can accumulate.

The most impressive thing about Shawn? He outperforms the NBA's finest big men, but he's not that big. At 6'7", this baller often gives up five or six inches to an opponent. He relies on his incredible leaping ability, quickness and constant hustle to get above and around bigger post men, which makes for an exciting brand of basketball that both entertains the fans and produces W's.

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Interview By Josh Staph

Despite what anyone says, the former Phoenix Suns' power forward was more than just Nash and Amare's sidekick. Shawn goes out and grinds as hard for his team-if not harder-than anyone in the league; and the dude wants a little respect for the big things he's done lately. How this guy isn't recognized as one of the best in the NBA is tougher to understand than that Daddy Yankee song you've been bobbin' your head to.

21.8 ppg—11.8 rpg—1.98 spg
That's Shawn's stat line from the '05-'06 season—the one in which he helped advance the Suns to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Along the way, he racked up 60 double-doubles (only two behind leader Kevin Garnett), made the Top 10 in most of the league's statistical categories (third in boards and steals per game), and led all players in total efficiency points—a rating that takes into account every positive and negative stat a player can accumulate.

The most impressive thing about Shawn? He outperforms the NBA's finest big men, but he's not that big. At 6'7", this baller often gives up five or six inches to an opponent. He relies on his incredible leaping ability, quickness and constant hustle to get above and around bigger post men, which makes for an exciting brand of basketball that both entertains the fans and produces W's.

During a preseason game in 1999, Shawn's athleticism earned him his nickname. After stealing the ball at the defensive end, Shawn hit an open man to start the break, ran the court, got the ball back and finished, like he usually does, with an explosive dunk. TV analyst Kenny Smith, amazed by his moves, referred to him as "The Matrix." Shawn's habit of performing a silly number of athletic moves made the name stick.

Now a perennial NBA All-Star, Shawn Marion is starting to get the respect he's been seeking. Hey Shawn, keep doing it like nobody else, and we won't have a choice but to respect your game.

STACK: What athletes did you look up to when you were growing up?
Marion:
I grew up in a north suburb of Chicago, so I looked up to Michael Jordan, of course, and the Bulls in general. I liked Scottie Pippen and all the other guys. I really respected what they did and how they played.

S: Did you try to model your game after any of those guys?
M:
No, not at all. I'm my own person, man. The minute you try to do something like someone else, you're not your own person anymore. It means you're trying to be someone else.

S: Back when you had those basketball idols, did you picture yourself being an NBA star as well?
M:
Not really. Anybody can imagine that, but it doesn't become a reality until later in life—until high school or later. The odds might be even higher now, but when I was in school, they told us that 1 in 75,000 players makes it to the pros. It made me realize how hard it is to get to the NBA. At the same time, if your mind is set on something, and you're willing to do what you need to do to accomplish that, you can do anything.

S: What kind of mental outlook helped you conquer the odds?
M:
It was simple. I always tried to go out there and leave it all on the floor. I tried to make myself and my teammates better. It was all about me becoming the best player possible.

S: At what point did you realize you had what it takes to get to the next level?
M:
I didn't know it until my freshman year in college. I knew I was good in high school, but you don't really know how good you are until you play against pros, overseas players and other Division-I guys. You don't get to play against them until you are a little older, so you can't really tell until then. I started taking it to them. So I thought, "if I can do it against guys at this level, then, damn, this is what I am supposed to be doing. So, I am going to make sure I am good at it, too." That extra confidence and taste of success helps you when you're going through tough workouts and games. It makes things easier on you.

S: Do you remember the first time you dunked?
M:
Oh yeah. It was the summer after my freshman year. I was playing AAU, and man, I just went up and dunked with one hand in a scrimmage. Later on, I went up with two.

S: You're known for your leaping ability. What's your actual vert?
M:
Some days it's 40; some days it 37, 38. It depends on how good I'm feeling on that particular day. They say that as you get older it decreases a little bit, but mine is still up there.

S: Were you always a guy who could jump out of the gym?
M:
Not necessarily. I've always been a good rebounder and always got a lot of blocks and steals. But sometimes older players—or even players my age—could jump a little higher than me. It was never a big deal to me 'cause I just went out and got those rebounds.

S: What's your proudest or most memorable athletic moment?
M:
My most memorable moment was being drafted, and getting up and walking across that stage in front of everyone. Being named an NBA All-Star was also a big honor. It was great to be recognized and rewarded for all the hard work I have put into my game and how hard I play for my teammates.

S: Do you feel like you are finally getting the respect you deserve as one of top players in the league?
M:
I don't know if that respect is going to come or not. Man, I just don't know. I know one thing though: if you look at the numbers in the whole league, nobody's even close to my numbers. That's what it boils down to right there: Who's doing what I'm doing? Nobody who's my height and weight is doing the things I am doing.

S: Do you think you're the most versatile player in the league?
M:
Possibly—maybe even definitely. I'm probably the only one who can guard one through five.

S: Is NBA stardom what you expected it to be?
M:
Definitely. Sometimes you get certain things you didn't ask for, but that comes with the territory. The more money you get, the more problems come along with it. There are normal things everyone in the limelight goes through. Everybody has these same problems.

S: Talk about making the adjustment to the NBA life.
M:
I had just turned 21 when I got drafted, so I wasn't too young. You do have to be mature to deal with all the pressure that is put on you. And the younger you are, the more pressure there is. I don't think people realize that when someone goes from nothing to something—an instant millionaire—it's not easy to adapt.

S: What are your thoughts about the NBA-imposed age limit?
M:
It really doesn't affect me, so I don't have a strong opinion on it. At the same time, anyone straight out of high school is not ready to play in the NBA. There are things you have to think about when you make that decision. And if the NBA wants to set a limit on who can come out and who can't, that's on them. A lot of young guys come in and aren't ready. They might get drafted in the second round and sign a two-year deal, but then they end up leaving, and you never hear from them again.

S: If it weren't for hoops, where would you be?
M:
Not really sure. I'm very interested in stocks and bonds, and also real estate. So maybe I would be doing something with that. I would definitely be doing something that would be making me some money.

S: Got any stock tips?
M:
Nope.

S: Looking back at your career, is there anything you would have done differently?
M:
I wish I had started doing some things earlier on, but I'm very content with where I am now. I have done pretty good for myself, and God has been good to me.

S: What wisdom can you offer a younger athlete?
M:
Make sure you get your education, so you always have something to fall back on. There ain't no guarantees in basketball. They can promise you the future and promise you the world, but there ain't no guarantee you're gonna get it. But nobody can take your education away from you. They can take all the material things from you, but nobody can take that.

S: You obviously are a naturally gifted athlete. How has training affected your success?
M:
Training has been big for me. I work out a lot and stay in shape as best as possible. Right now, I am in my down time, so it's time to rest my body and relax. I played a lot of minutes all season and through the playoffs. I can't just stop completely, though; I always have to be doing something active. I don't want to get big either, because I want to be quick at all times.

S: What do you do to unwind after a long season and playoff run?
M:
I listen to music, relax, chill, hang out with friends, watch movies, play video games, whatever. You know, just chill and enjoy life with things like barbecues. I do what everybody else does to relax.

S: What are some of your favorite movies?
M:
I like comedies, but my favorite movie of all time is Under the Cherry Moon with Prince. I don't know what it is about that movie, but it's my favorite of all time.

S: Video games?
M:
I have been playing the World Series of Poker a lot recently. I play poker for real, too. I go to a casino around here, but we also play on planes. I haven't had a poker game at the house yet, though.

S: What would be on the grill at a cookout at Shawn Marion's house?
M:
There would definitely be a whole lot of chicken, and bratwurst on there for sure.

S: It's well known that you have an impressive fleet of cars. Which one is your favorite?
M:
I just came from the DMV office after getting everything set with my 1970 red Chevelle. I am starting to get into those older cars a little bit more, so that one is my favorite—for now.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

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