NBA / Jun 4, 2011 / 10:00 am

The Matrix Reloaded: Shawn Marion Is Rewriting His Legacy

Shawn Marion

Shawn Marion (photo. Nike Basketball)

He was once dubbed The Matrix. TNT’s Kenny Smith even gave him a patented sound that’s onomatopoeia too complicated to spell out. Nowadays, Shawn Marion, a four-time NBA All-Star, is supposed to be a role player with the Dallas Mavericks, a defensive stopper who needed only to do the little things to help out Dirk Nowitzki and Co. But in a career of ending many seasons by saying “almost” or “maybe,” Marion doesn’t appear satisfied to sit back anymore.

He’s taking this one personally.

The 11-year NBA veteran scored 20 points and grabbed eight boards in Dallas’ 95-93 comeback victory against Miami on Thursday. It was a flashback to his younger days with the Phoenix Suns, when the man with the fastest springs in the league threw up wacky jumpers, flipped in quick floaters and averaged double-doubles.

Was it anything new?

“Just being aggressive and taking the ball to the rack,” Marion told ESPN after the game. “Also, I was able to handle some pick and rolls. I like that. I was able to come off and be aggressive and attack more. I was able to find my teammates or attack the basket.”

One difference in his game is that Marion appears a little more grown up these days. Those 20-10 nights came in Phoenix despite Marion becoming more and more maligned by Phoenix fans as each year passed. He had all the tools to be a dominant rebounder and defender, but at times, his effort was questioned by the fans and the media.

That led to Marion feeling disrespected. Trade rumors didn’t help either. He left after the last few years of his tenure came with constant rumblings of a change, leading to his rising discontentment with the Suns management.

Now, he has a chance to prove that maybe any complaints about his effort were in bad form. Players learn. They grow wiser with time. Work ethic, media-savvy and personal image develop as years pass. It happens with everyone.

Whether any of those three things have changed with Marion after he was traded away from Phoenix for Shaquille O’Neal remain to be seen. But was the gist on Marion giving him a fair shake? Perhaps it was brewed up by the media after the Suns struggled to reach the NBA Finals despite having the talents of, among others, Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. Maybe Marion was a scapegoat.

So eventually, he had enough and forced a trade. He had stints in Miami and Toronto before landing in Dallas, where all of a sudden he’s looking like The Matrix of old.

He’s been aggressive and efficient on offense in the past three playoff games, averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. More importantly – and more career defining – has been Marion’s defense against Kevin Durant and LeBron James in those three games. They’ve gotten theirs, but neither has scored more than 24 points in that same span.

Give credit to The Matrix. Age hasn’t overtaken his body to the point where his will isn’t enough to be the second best player on the Mavs. He’s played at least 35 minutes per game in the last five contests, almost all of them productive, and his aggressiveness has given Dallas a shot in the arm that Miami probably didn’t expect.

Is he on a mission to squash his old criticisms? No. But he’s on a quest for a championship ring that might legitimize one of the league’s more successful, yet under-appreciated NBA careers.

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  • yentron

    i’ll remember marion for being the best fantasy player a few years in a row

  • derik

    great article, he is one of my favorite players of all time, so versatile, so special

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    I love the Mavs, and I’m glad that Marion is on the team.

    But to say that the media ran him out of Phoenix is ludicrous. He was the highest paid member of the team despite being, at best, it’s 2nd star after Nash. Yet he constantly complained about not having a big enough role.

    Nash made him a star, which was evident after he went to Miami and Toronto. He’s playing great now, but let’s not get things twisted.

  • derik

    @dagwaller
    please… Marion averaged 17.3, 19.1, 21.2, 19pts from 2000~2004, that’s before Nash got to Phoenix, yes Marion did have Kidd, but so does and Nash, but so does Hakim Warrick, I don’t see him putting up 20 points, Nash didn’t help Marion Grab all those rebounds and block all those shots, and stealing those passes, give Marion the credits he deserves.

  • sh!tfaced

    Nice one. The Matrix Reloaded.

    Proud owner of the prettiest jump shot since Bill Cartwright.

    Never would have thought he’d be playing this good at this level at his age.

    And just like Dirk, isn’t he playing with nine fingers as well? Remember seeing a recent pic of his left(?) pinkie pointing ten o’clock…

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @derik – was Marion a very good player? Yes. He had been an All-Star once.

    After Nash, though, he made some all-nba teams and a few all-star teams. He went from being a good stats on a bad team guy to a great stats on a very good team guy.

    I already paid him respect a few times I believe. I just wanted to clear up the fact that no one really ran him out of town. He just had an inflated opinion of himself.

  • APE

    The only legacy he’ll embed in my mind is that UGLY JUMPSHOT of his.

  • Celts Fan

    @dag – come on man. His entire prime was with Nash. He was young before that and beyond his prime fter. A guy that athletically gifted is gonna take a yr or so to adjust to his diminishing hops. He has. And Nash was a borderline all star w Dirk and then came to play w Matrix and Stat (and got some VERY beneficial rules changes) and became MVP. By that logic, you could say Nash wasnt shit without Matrix.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @Celts – actually Nash was All-NBA with the Mavericks and has been All-NBA since Marion left. To suggest that he was a “borderline allstar” before the Suns is borderline ludicrous haha.

    Let me reiterate that I think Marion has always been a good player.

    But with the Suns, he was an undersized PF, a hustle guy. Those guys are a dime a dozen. Before Nash got there, he was essentially an athletic Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Once Nash arrived, he started winning, and for whatever reason felt that he should be considered their #1 guy (beyond already being paid as such). Nash, to the best of my memory, never demanded that he be rightly paid as the franchise savior.

    Once he went to Miami and Toronto, he was exposed for what he was: a great athlete without much skill. Defense? Rebounding? Steals? Blocks? He had all that. But he wasn’t an offensive powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination.

    This is like saying Tyson Chandler “made” Chris Paul. Silly to even debate, really.

  • beiber newz

    @ yenton:
    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! your 1st post is really the truth.

    he def won some championships for some ppl.

  • Nancy

    DALLAS MAVS ROCKIN NEW WIZ KID SINGLE FOR THE FINALS!!!!!

    Already got my tickets for the finals, its gonna be great. Heard few tickets are still available http://goo.gl/TSqpT

  • Celts Fan

    @dag. Never said it was a real debate, just shooting holes in you Nash made hi an allstar point. Of course being on a winning team makes u more likely to be an allstar, but dude was damn good when they were losing too. I agree completely about the #1 guy shit tho. That shit was dumb. Like he and stat forgot who the real #1 on that team was when thy were beefing

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ Celts – I def agree that Marion was a good player before. “The Matrix” haha. I remember seeing Sportscenter and being like, Oh man, the Suns have new uniforms!

  • JohnVancouver

    I can’t recall anyone ever questioning Shawn’s effort in PHX – he did hurt himself by complaining so often about not being respected – he was the highest paid guy on the team, over Stat and a two-time MVP. I never could understand what he needed. And he wanted a max deal to re-sign ….. he had a strange conception of his value

    glad to see him doing so well now, though – a great player