Unable to come to terms with Hapoel Jerusalem on a playing role moving forward, Amar’e Stoudemire announced his retirement on Instagram over the holiday weekend. The only question still concerning the former NBA All-Star’s career is whether he did enough to achieve his stated Hall of Fame goal.
After 14 seasons in the NBA, Stoudemire played this past season for Hapoel, averaging 10.7 points, six rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 23 minutes per game. His team captured this year’s Israeli Basketball Premiere League title and Israeli Basketball State Cup before reaching the EuroCup semifinals.
“Although I would have liked to return for another season, the team, coach and I could not find a role that I felt would allow me to meaningfully contribute in the way I have always been accustomed to play,” Stoudemire wrote on Instagram. “I feel it is my time now to return to the shareholder’s position and help make this team even better. I would like to thank Hapoel Jerusalem president Ori Allon and the entire Hapoel Jerusalem organization for giving me the opportunity to retire as a champion, and doing it in the holiest of cities made it even more special.”
Stoudemire was a rare blend of size, athleticism and skill, serving mostly as the starting center for the seven-seconds-or-less Phoenix Suns that gave rise to the NBA’s current pace-and-space era in the 2000s. Drafted ninth by the Suns out of high school in 2002, he averaged 18.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and two combined blocks and steals over 846 career NBA games, earning six trips to the All-Star Game, five All-NBA honors, four top-10 MVP finishes and the 2002-03 Rookie of the Year award.
A deadly pick-and-roll partner for two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, Stoudemire helped lead the Suns to a pair of 60-win seasons and three Western Conference Finals appearances. Many observers believed Phoenix’s best shot at a title came in 2007, when the Suns lost a second-round series in six games to the San Antonio Spurs. Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were controversially suspended for Game 5 of that series after leaving the bench when Robert Horry shoved Nash into the scorer’s table late in Game 4.
At first glance, it does not seem as though a six-time All-Star who made just one First Team All-NBA appearance and never won a championship belongs in the Hall of Fame, especially since his career fizzled due to chronic knee problems. Stoudemire made the All-Star team in his first season after joining the New York Knicks on a five-year, $99.7 million deal at age 28 in 2010, but his production steadily declined over the next five years. The Knicks ultimately waived him in February 2015. He played for the Dallas Mavericks and Heat before announcing his retirement from the NBA in July 2016.
“I’m actually very proud of my career. In my career, I’ve had some ups and downs,” Stoudemire told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated last summer. “But I’m thankful that what I put into this game helped me achieve what I was able to accomplish. Hopefully, that gives me a bid into the Hall of Fame. That was my goal as a teenager, was to become a Hall of Famer. That’s what I’m still striving for.”
Upon further review, though, Stoudemire’s résumé is a whole lot closer to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame material than you might think. He concluded his career with 15,994 points, 6,632 rebounds, 1,054 blocks and 1,050 assists — one of just 23 players to submit those numbers.
Of the other 22 — a list that includes former MVPs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Dirk Nowitzki, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Bob McAdoo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett — all but four are in the Hall of Fame or HOF locks: Chris Webber, whose plaque belongs in Springfield, Massachusetts, Rasheed Wallace, Elton Brand and Stoudemire’s Suns teammate Shawn Marion.
Among the 20 players on that list who have finished their careers, Stoudemire ranks 11th in Win Shares Per 48 Minutes behind nine Hall of Famers and future HOFer Kevin Garnett, and only Kevin McHale finished his career with a higher true shooting percentage than Stoudemire (59.7 percent).
Basketball Reference’s Hall of Fame Probability — a metric that takes into account prolonged statistical dominance as well as awards recognition — gives Stoudemire a 72.93 percent chance of making the Hall of Fame (93rd in league history). The only players with a higher probability than Stoudemire who are eligible for the Hall of Fame and have not been voted in are Larry Foust, Jack Sikma and Tim Hardaway. Hardaway was a finalist for Springfield this year, while Foust and Sikma are the only seven-time All-Stars not in the Hall and consistently rank among its biggest snubs.
The list of six-time All-Stars not in the Hall is a longer one, including Larry Costello, Walter Daivs, Lou Hudson and Shawn Kemp, but even then 75 percent of those Hall-eligible players made the cut. And none of this includes Stoudemire’s contributions to a team that changed the way the game is played.
Stoudemire is by no means a Hall of Fame lock. If he is granted eligibility in 2021, he will have a hard time cracking a class that will undoubtedly include Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The 2022 class, with Paul Pierce as its lone lock, is a possibility. Only time will tell if Stoudemire’s most recent season in Israel, which included his lone professional championship, helped his cause.
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