Over his 13 year NBA career Shawn Marion has been known for many things: his freakish athleticism, his bizarre two-handed jump shot, even his uncanny ability to guard almost any position; however, one thing that has plagued Marion throughout his career is the perception that he is perpetually undervalued and never considered an elite player in the NBA.Marion’s struggles with the lack of recognition he has received for his play in Phoenix was well documented in Jack McCallum’s book “:07 seconds or less” and his inability to accept Amare as the alpha dog was believed to be the reason he was dealt out of phoenix in 2008. Despite being a four time All-Star, Marion was never considered to be the superstar in Phoenix. During his tenure there Marion found himself taking a backseat to players like Stephon Marbury, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. Suffice to say, the Suns were never considered to be Shawn Marion’s team.
Marion Posted career highs of 11.8 rebounds per game and 21.8 points per game during the 2005-2006 season; a season in which the Suns came within two wins of the NBA Finals, despite an injury to Amare Stoudemire that left him inactive for the majority of the season. That season was also a season in which Steve Nash received the MVP award and thus all the attention and recognition for the success of the team, easily overshadowing Marion’s outstanding season. That would also prove to be the closest that Marion would get to the NBA Finals as a Sun, losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs in the following two seasons.
Subsequently, Marion was traded twice during the 2008-2009 season; first to Miami and then to Toronto. In the following offseason he agreed to a sign-and-trade that landed him in Dallas where he has spent time both as a starter and as a reserve over the past two years.
Now in his 12th season Marion is still having an impact; he is playing an important role on a team with serious title aspirations while being asked to guard the opponent’s best players and still contribute on the offensive end. During the regular season Marion quietly had a very good season; he averaged 12.5 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game in just 28 minutes per game, which when adjusted per 36 minutes, prove to be his most impressive season since 2007. More importantly, he is contributing significantly on both the offensive and the defensive end for a Dallas Mavericks team that has reached the NBA Finals.
Game 2 of the Finals may prove to be his defining moment: he was solid, if not spectacular, keeping his team in it and scoring key baskets when they needed it; Marion finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds, but it was his defense in the second half on LeBron James that really changed the game; by staying in front of James and forcing him to take tough outside shots, Marion slowed James, and in turn the Miami offense long enough for his team to go on a run and steal the game in Miami.
Should the Mavs take the title it appears as though Marion may be overlooked again, given the enormous shadow that Dirk has cast with his phenomenal play thus far in the playoffs. Hopefully for Marion, his outstanding performance in game 2 will draw the attention of fans and media alike, giving him the credit and recognition he deserves as an integral part of the Western Conference, and possibly soon-to-be NBA Champions.
Although Marion’s chances of being included in the NBA elite appear to have passed, his impact on the Dallas Mavericks during their playoff run cannot be overstated; perhaps a championship ring will help Marion find solace in his role as one of the most underrated players of our era.