Today, Amare Stoudamire, a 33-year-old professional basketball player, retired as a member of the New York Knicks.
The 6-foot-10 center/forward had a pretty lengthy resume, and has a legacy of being one of the most exciting teams in recent history, teaming with Steve Nash and Shawn Marion to make Phoenix a contender in the Western Conference of the NBA. Injury, however, prevented him from becoming the kind of dominant presence that would earn him superstar dollars, even in New York.
Stoudamire remains, for me, the poster child for what can go wrong when it comes to corruptive dealings in youth sports. It got to the point where shoe companies, colleges, and AAU coaches were pulling at him to play for them, causing a rift in his family and causing him to enroll in six different schools in five states during his scholastic career.
One such school was a would-be superprep team run out of the basement of a church in North Carolina, where there were no other students but the basketball team.
There were all sorts of conflicts of interest, especially when it comes to the wild world of AAU summer basketball. In this transcript, it is disclosed that Stoudamire wasn’t just a participant in AAU basketball, but was a beneficiary; the AAU president at the time purchased a house in which he was living with his coach. His coach was hired as an assistant with a scholastic team for which he was eventually deemed ineligible his junior season.
Despite all this, he was still drafted in the first round by Phoenix, and played in the Olympics just two years later. It made you forget that he only played his first organized game of basketball at the age of 14.
It also made you forget that he lost of development time not playing his junior year of high school and not preparing for the pros playing at a U.S. college.
There were dollars to be chased. He signed contracts totaling some $183 million for his career.
Question is, was it worth it?