BLOG: Jared Dudley's passion for Phoenix a breath of fresh air compared to Stoudemire's disrespect

Posted at 11:48 AM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 14:48:03-04

Within a 24-hour period, Phoenix Suns fans have witnessed the epitome of class from one of their favorite players and a complete lack of class from another.

On Tuesday, former Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire announced the end of his NBA career. He proudly did so as a member of the New York Knicks,thereby snubbing the team that drafted him and with whom he spent most of his career.

"Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple. Once a Knick, always a Knick," Stoudemire wrote.

Maybe Stoudemire chose the Knicks over the Suns because the Suns didn't make a strong effort to re-sign him in 2010. Or, as John Gambadoro reported, it could be because the man known as STAT wanted to return to the Suns for a final season, but the Suns weren't interested in making that happen.

Regardless of the reason: Stoudemire's decision to retire a Knick and not even make reference to the Suns or Phoenix in his farewell statement was a calculated slap in the face to the team with whom he made five of his six All-Star appearances.

But worse than that: It was a blatant display of disrespect toward the fans who supported him for eight seasons in Phoenix.

Contrast those comments to those of Jared Dudley, who played for the Suns from 2008-13 and re-signed with the team earlier this month. Alongside two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, Dudley and Stoudemire led the Suns on a run to the 2010 Western Conference Finals, vanquishing the hated San Antonio Spurs along the way.

In a column for the Players' Tribune published Wednesday called "I'm Home," Dudley expressed his love for the Suns franchise, and his praise of the Valley and its fans was on par with what Larry Fitzgerald wrote in his column before last season's NFC Championship Game.

Let's hope Amar'e Stoudemire reads Jared Dudley's letter to Suns fans and takes notes

In his column, Dudley shared anecdotes about his Suns teammates -- his story about Shaquille O'Neal's interruption of his poker game on a team flight is awesome -- and he reminisced about the ovation he received from fans when he made his debut in Phoenix.

"That love, that embrace -- I’ll always remember that feeling," he wrote. "It told me that Phoenix was home, and I’ve never forgotten about it since then.

"And that’s why I’m anxious to bring back the 2010 atmosphere to Phoenix. It was all about mixing professionalism with fun and make no mistake, we had a lot of fun."

Dudley showed a tremendous amount of class by writing that he understood why the Suns traded him in 2013, and he expressed a personal responsibility to do whatever he can to return the franchise to prominence.

"Phoenix is where I want to be," Dudley wrote. "It’s the place where I became the man I am today, and I owe this city a lot.

"I can’t wait to give back to the community and to be out in the city to greet the fans. I want to build memories that go beyond basketball for the city of Phoenix. I couldn’t be happier to be home. Now let's go to work."

No, we don't know what went on behind the scenes with Stoudemire and Suns management. Maybe Amar'e is justified in his snub of the franchise. But he's not justified in his snub of the Valley sports fans who gave him and the Suns the same level of support the Cardinals enjoy now.

How difficult would it have been for Stoudemire to include a shout-out to the fans who sold out the Suns' arena game after game and gave the team a crucial home-court advantage during those playoff runs? Writing something as basic as "I want to thank the fans in Phoenix for supporting me during my eight years there" would have been an easy thing to do.

Major credit goes to Dudley for taking time to acknowledge the positive role that Arizona and its residents have played in his life and NBA career. Let's hope STAT reads Dudley's letter and takes notes. This is how it's done.