Amar’e Stoudemire has been with the Dallas Mavericks for almost a month now and, so far, things are not going as expected. After receiving a buyout from the New York Knicks, Stoudemire was primed to sign with a contender — what he thought he was getting when he picked the Mavericks. However, he has been thoroughly disappointed with they way they’ve been playing, and he had no problem expressing himself.
“I came here to win and we’re [4½] games out of being out of the playoffs, which is unacceptable,” said Stoudemire. “This is something we can’t accept. We’ve got to find a way to refocus. We’ve got to key into the details of the game of basketball.
“We can’t cheat the game. We can’t screw around in shootarounds and practices and joke around all the time and figure we’re going to win games. This is the pros. It’s the highest level of basketball. We’ve got to act that way.”
Whether or not you agree with the way that Stoudemire chose to voice his opinion, there is no denying that the Mavericks are in a precarious situation. Following Tuesday’s loss, Dallas is now 5-5 in its last 10 games and currently sits in seventh place in the Western Conference. They may still have a 41-25 overall record, but with the way they’ve been performing there is no guarantee that they even make the playoffs. Stoudemire certainly didn’t see this coming when he opted to sign with the Mavs, and he is obviously upset with the way things are going so far. With that being said, should Stoudemire be regretting his decision to go to Dallas?
The Dallas Mavericks have the talent on their roster to make some noise in the Western Conference. But it’s their lackadaisical attitude that’s starting to get to Stoudemire. The loss to Cleveland was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“We’ve got to pay more attention to detail,” said the 13-year veteran. “We can’t be making minor mistakes. We made mistakes that second-year players or rookie players make in this league. We’re a veteran team. Guys are 13, 14, 16 years in this league. We should know better than that.
“We should be a much better team than what we showed out there. This is a team that’s competing for a championship that we played against. We should have stepped up to the challenge of competing with these guys and we backed down.”
He’s not the only one that’s recognized that the Mavericks have reached a crucial junction in their season. These sentiments were echoed by coach Rick Carlisle. “Well, we’re going to find out what we’re made of from here. This is the lowest point we’ve been at. When you get to this point, everyone has to come together.” It must be nice for Stoudemire to know that his coach feels the same way he does. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that his fellow teammates are going to appreciate being called out like that. Fortunately, for him, his teammates support his decision to voice his opinion; it’s not as if they weren’t thinking the same thing.
“I think he’s earned it throughout his career, and he came here because he wanted to win a championship,” said Chandler, who was Stoudemire’s teammate with the Knicks over the previous three seasons. “And I encourage more guys to be vocal. I think he’s only been honest to his teammates. He didn’t say anything to you guys that he didn’t say to us personally, so I respect that. I feel like guys will respect that and get things in order.”
This is exactly the response that Stoudemire needed to hear from another veteran presence in the Mavericks locker room. The only way that Dallas will stand a chance to vie for a championship is if they recognize, right now, that they have some issues and they need to work them out. This team has a fantastic coach and a stacked roster, which includes the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, and Chandler Parsons. Stoudemire knows the Mavs have the talent to make a run, they just need to put in the work.
If this team is able to overcome this difficult period, then they will be much better for it. It’s too early to determine if Stoudemire made the wrong choice in picking Dallas, but at least now we’ll get the opportunity to see what this group is really made of. If they are able to step up to the challenge, then Stoudemire should have no regrets about becoming a member of the Dallas Mavericks.