Mavs Ex Marion: The Hall-Of-Fame Case
The Dallas Mavericks helped Shawn Marion re-invent himself. Trix helped the Mavs to their first NBA championship. These things last forever, as former teammates Marion and Dirk often remind each other, and we can easily make a case for Shawn Marion lasting forever in another way: as a Hall-of-Famer.
He's with Cleveland now, with an assignment to play a toned-down role from his Dallas days, when it seemed they always knew what they are going to get from him: 10-to-15 points per game off of efficient (if unorthodox) shot selection, top-of-the-league rebounding and stellar defense guarding all five positions, for every minute he's on the floor. In stops before Dallas, he was spectacular. With the Mavs he was glue.
And as weird as it sounds now, looking back, consistency was a hallmark.
Said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle this week, reflecting on Marion's plans to retire after the 2014-15 season:
And of course, that comment highlights the "unusual'' nature of Marion's game. Most notably, we think: the defensive Swiss Army Knife thing, the fact that he'd guard a mobile center one night, wrestle with a muscular power forward the next, and then, as maybe the best-conditioned Mav of this era, go chase around Tony Parker the next. But the numbers -- the standard stuff -- they are there, too.
With the Suns, Marion was a four-time All-Star who averaged 18.4 points and 10 rebounds per. He is second in Phoenix club history in rebounds, steals and minutes played and is third in blocked shots and field goals, and fourth in points and in 3-pointers. In the 2011 title season, he averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per while joining Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett and Julius Erving as one of only five players to compile 1,500 steals and 1,000 blocks.
He played five seasons in Dallas, and even last season remained productive at 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds. He and the Mavs mutually agreed to part ways as he entered free agency last summer, sources telling DB.com that Marion's well-earned pride wouldn't mesh with the club's idea of an extremely reduced role for him. Marion then chose to join LeBron James in Cleveland, where he's in a part-time starting role and averaging 5.6 points and four rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game.
He wasn't necessarily unappreciated in his time as a Maverick, but perhaps he was "under-discussed. Think back to the Mavericks' championship run. Marion's defensive consistency is constantly overshadowed by others. The iconic Dirk. The boastful Jet. The certain HOF'er Kidd. It's even true on defense, as we all remember the impact that Tyson Chandler had as a rim protector. Chandler's presence is not in question, but Marion did everything on defense. He played perimeter defense and interior defense and was huge on the offensive and defensive glass.
In that playoff run alone, Marion was the primary defender on Brandon Roy, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Very few players this side of Scottie Pippen can claim to have had succeeded in such difficult playoff defensive assignments. In the final seconds of Game 2 of the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals, Marion had the game-winning block of Kevin Durant.
We would argue that Marion's years in Phoenix are perpetually unappreciated as well, though the Arizona paper's coverage of this retirement plan smartly pushes for Marion as an all-time great Sun worthy of induction into that team's hall.
Steve Nash came to the Suns and led the team with his two MVP's and Amare Stoudemire was the one on most of the highlight reels with his impressive dunks, but it was Marion doing everything in between. Not to mention that he was the only adequate defensive player on the team.
In 2005 when Nash won his first MVP, he led the league in assists with 11.5 per game. Marion was third in the league in rebounding with 11.3. In Nash's second MVP season he led the league in assists with 10.5. Marion was once again third in the league in rebounding with 11.8. Don't be fooled into thinking that Marion wasn't an essential member of the Suns' "Seven Seconds Or Less" era.
If his team needed him to be a rebounder, he was a league leader. In those Phoenix days, he was also a superior offensive weapon, a "superstar,'' as Marion now called that version of himself. In Dallas, he role wasn't immediately clear, and you might remember, he arrived here in a 2009 trade with Toronto as something less than a selfless guy.
The lack of clarity extended to the 2010 playoffs, when he mumbled about being "rag-dolled'' by Carlisle, as the coach used Marion and Caron Butler back-and-forth in series loss to San Antonio.
But clarity came. To Carlisle and the Mavs. And to Marion as well, who was eventually freed to be unorthodox in all his quirky ways, who now has a bond with this team and this city that will last forever.
"This is a great city,'' Marion said last spring as he discussed his newborn son and his post-basketball future. "The fans here are amazing. It's a great environment here. Mark and Donnie have built an amazing franchise here. It's like a family here. ... I'm going to retire here, regardless. I'm going to be a Dallas local here in the coming years. I'm going to make this my home."
He should be in Dallas. It's easy to argue that he should be in Springfield, too. And to paraphrase 'Trix, anybody who knows anything about basketball should be at least considering the idea.
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