Image counts on and off court
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 5, 2005 12:00 AM
The Suns invested faith, time and money in Amaré Stoudemire long ago and have a valuable player to show for it.
That value is rising on and off the court. If Amaré Inc. were a stock, it would be one to buy.
Stoudemire's off-court advisers, Rodney Rice and Michael Hodges, comb through new business offers and community endeavors daily. They have jumped at few, knowing bigger moves are ahead with every rung Stoudemire climbs on the ladder to NBA stardom.
You see Stoudemire leaping upon the scene now in a Nike commercial, but they see Stoudemire with his own Nike signature shoe within 16 months.
"That's something he definitely wants," said Rice, Stoudemire's Washington, D.C.-based business manager for two years. "Not many players can command that, but he's that type of player. He's a well-spoken, humble man. Over time, companies are going to see he's a marketable person."
Stoudemire gave Rice and Hodges even more responsibility when he cut ties with his second pro agent, Bill Duffy, in late September. Stoudemire had parted with his first agent, John Wolf, who has an ongoing lawsuit against Stoudemire to recoup money he began paying Stoudemire and his family when the player was in high school.
"I needed someone who was loyal and not somebody that thinks I'm just another client," Stoudemire said. "The first couple guys just seemed like they wanted as many big-name players as they could get."
Stoudemire is approaching a summer in which he will get a long-term extension, the details of which will be based on how a new collective bargaining agreement
alters the length of deals and the salary cap. He is not too worried about needing an agent.
"It shouldn't be too hard," Stoudemire said with a smile, knowing a maximum deal is coming his way and a lawyer can handle contract semantics.
The summer will bring more than Stoudemire's big payday and work with his annual camp, mobile auto detailing business, Web site (thatsamare.com) and Legends Cadillac partnership. It will be a chance to cash in on the growing fame that the Suns' success has brought.
"We feel like Amaré is a national guy and we definitely want to market him that way," Hodges said. "He's the future of the NBA, along with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. We need to take that into consideration and be sure to portray the Suns in a positive manner.
"We need to be careful with what we align ourselves with because he is young (22). Amaré wants to be perceived as one of the best players ever."
Stoudemire is trying to soak up business knowledge in the same way the coaches always rave about how he became a sponge on the court. Rice said Stoudemire hopes to use his wealth, fame and trying background to inspire and help others by establishing a civic foundation.
"I see Amaré as somebody who's going to impact a lot of people," said Rice, who also works with NFL players Dwight Freeney, Kris Jenkins and Jerry Porter. "Amaré is special. I know what kind of compassion he has. He's come through a lot and he's shining now. His star is only going to shine brighter."
SUNS VS. TRAIL BLAZERS
WHERE: America West Arena.
WHEN: 7 p.m.
TV/RADIO: FSNAZ/KTAR-AM (620).
BLAZERS UPDATE: Portland entered Friday night's home game against Indiana at 22-33. Mo Cheeks was fired as coach Wednesday after the Blazers had lost seven of their past nine games. Portland is planning to go with younger players, starting Darius Miles and giving more minutes to Sebastian Telfair
, Viktor Khryapa and Travis Outlaw. Portland is trying to push the tempo more under interim coach Kevin Pritchard. In Portland's previous visit Jan. 2, Amaré Stoudemire scored 50 points.