People Issue

Shawn Marion: The Stopper

In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Mark Graham. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

So it didn't end well for the Mavs this year. But it's still good -- it's still really, really good -- to be Shawn Marion.

First, there's his body of work. The 34-year-old from Waukegan, Illinois, was one of the keys to the Mavericks' 2011 championship run, guarding each opponent's best scorer -- including the entirety of Miami's three-headed monster -- during the team's romp through the playoffs. Then there's his body. Before Shawn Marion existed, Shawn Marion was what happened when you went into create-a-player mode in NBA Live and turned all the physical attributes to 99. The 6-foot-7 small forward was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1999 already able to jump through the gym roof and cover the court like something out of a James Cameron daydream. In his rookie preseason, TNT's Kenny Smith named him "The Matrix," because he didn't seem real. "If he could shoot like Dell Curry, we'd have a Michael Jordan on our hands," his head coach, Danny Ainge, said at the time.

OK, so he doesn't shoot like Dell Curry. He shoots like Chuck Hayes. He shoots like Anthony Mason. It looks ugly. Painful, even. But it often goes in. Nobody knows how. Off the court, he's the ultimate bachelor, the kind of guy you warn your daughter about but secretly hope she brings home: You can find him in Miami, or Chicago, or Vegas, or the Double Wide, the Deep Ellum hipster haven where he was recently spotted. He's affable (he's tweeted 10,400 times) and he's fashionable (many of those tweets are pictures of his socks).

Maybe you don't have a daughter. Maybe you're just a fan. Maybe you heard that Mark Cuban is courting Deron Williams to be the Mavs' next franchise player, and is still trying to somehow acquire superstar center Dwight Howard, and that everyone not named Dirk could be moved to make it happen. Maybe you looked up the Matrix's season averages this year and noticed they're a far cry from his career totals. Maybe you think, Maybe Cuban should move him.

Not likely. Marion spent the entire 2012 season chasing opposing stars all over the floor, and was voted the NBA's eighth-best defender at season's end. As he's aged, he's shifted offensively from a skywalking small forward to an undersized, slashing post player -- shades of Charles Barkley, nothing of Chuck Hayes. When the free agents sign and the smoke clears, it might even be Marion who makes you think, Maybe the Mavs still have a shot.

See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

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Greg Howard