Yesterday, a discussion emerged about front-court players, and what started out as a rant against a current power forward that will be named later turned into a trip back in time, and it landed on one of my favorite players of all-time: none other than The Rain Man, Shawn Kemp.
Plenty of people remember the monster alleys he caught from Gary Payton, but he had an all-around game. The man could shoot, rebound, dribble, and pass. Kemp was an absolute monster, and at a time when the NBA had true and dominant big men, Shawn Kemp was right in the mix with the best of them.
He was a perennial ten rebound per game player, which is expected from a power forward. Going a step further, he averaged 20 and nine, even when he went to Cleveland, and got fat! His weight marshmallowed to 275, and he was still a monster. An announcer once said about him, “he is a handful to play. If that guy’s not an All-Star, I’ve never seen one.”
But there’s no need to front. The thing I miss the most about Shawn Kemp are the celebrations. It’s gotten to the point where I now refer to his post-dunk antics as #ShawnKempcelebrations (if you’re on Twitter, you’ll understand the hashtag.) He literally demeaned and abused Alton Lister after that world-famous yam, sat on Rodman’s neck in the NBA Finals, did some crazy, tribal thing after he dunked on Alonzo Mourning once, and there were others as well.
Another reason I’m remembering the Rain Man right now, is because there’s a player that’s currently in the NBA Western Conference Finals, who has all the tools in the world to have a Kemp impact, and that man goes by the name of Amare Stoudemire. STAT has the size, length, and athleticism of a young Shawn Kemp, but this man either refuses or simply cannot fuse all these things together and be a monster. He’s averaging five rebounds a game right now, which is absolutely appalling, and 100% disgusting.
Just imagine if he tapped into his inner-Shawn Kemp completely. He’s got the dunking part down, and the jumper part down, but this clown can’t defend and can’t rebound worth…a…damn. Amare Stoudemire is my dude, and even as a supporter, his effort, and his previous rebounding efforts have been absolutely putrid, which further serves as my reverence for Shawn Kemp. Maybe if someone can get him some old-school Kemp tapes, he’ll tap into something, and make this series worth watching, because right now, there’s no desire to watch even one more second of it.