It’s been six years since the Phoenix Suns were referring to their franchise big man Amar’e (at the time, just Amare) Stoudemire as a “point center.” Six years forward, it’s still a bit unclear what exactly a point center’s job description looked like. It certainly wasn’t discernible at the time. While Stoudemire made significant strides in his outside shooting and his overall awareness on the court, he wasn’t a do-it-all in the mold of Magic Johnson, or even his future teammate Boris Diaw. This is not a slight to one of the most remarkable offensive players in the game — just a statement of observable fact. But Amar’e has always been motivated to improve. And while his on-court play hasn’t diversified as much as once projected, he’s made significant strides in becoming a more complete cultural being.
Recently placed in the spotlight is the phenomenalÂ Bon AppÃ©titÂ feature on both Stoudemire and his personal chef Maxcel Hardy. If Stoudemire’s complete embrace of New York City’s cosmopolitan lifestyle wasn’t clear enough over the past year, Adam Sachs’ feature spells it out quite plainly. However, what’s more interesting is the parallel between Stoudemire and Hardy, whose partnership could only be construed as fate playing its part. Both men emerged in 2002 as teenage talents in Florida — at age 19, Stoudemire bypassed college and entered the NBA Draft and was selected 9th overall, while Hardy established a celebrity catering company in Miami at 18 while attending Johnson & Wales University on both a basketball and culinary arts scholarship.
Of course, Stoudemire has very much identified with the Jewish faith, and consequently, has taken up a more kosher diet. Not a problem, because Hardy gained extensive knowledge of kosher cooking early on in his career working Â for Gem Catering, a kosher catering company.Â Seriously, what else other than fate could have brought these two together?
Suffice to say. Amar’e Stoudemire is living the life. He is a wealthy, wealthy man playing a sport that he is incredibly good at in a city that treats their sports figures as immortals. He is a prolific socialite with connections in every direction, and yet through all the noise, he has time and space to emphasize the importance of his own health and spirituality. And he pays someone who is ready to cook for him whenever he wants. The gravity of that concept is unfathomable to mere peons like myself.
It doesn’t hurt to know good people, and from Sach’s feature, there is no shortage of connections for Amar’e Stoudemire. Most notable is Brooklyn-based rapper Fabolous, who easily wins the award for best quote ever:
The rapper Fabolous is standing by the pool table. “I’m fond of his work,” he says of Hardy’s culinary prowess. Fabolous also respects Stoudemire’s interest in eating well: “I pig out all the time, but I plan to trend down the fried stuff when I get older. You gotta chisel at it, though. You can’t go cold turkey on fried chicken, you know?”
(“You can’t go cold turkey on fried chicken” is going on my headstone.)
Fabolous commends Stoudemire’s reformed eating habits, and rightfully so. As a player, understanding nutritional balance and exploring culinary alternatives is a necessity in not only discovering the body’s thresholds, but applying pressure on those boundaries once age begins to set in. And as a person, Stoudemire is learning, strengthening his spiritual bonds, becoming a cultural point forward, all in one (presumably satisfying) bite.