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Cover boy (cont.)

Posted: Friday September 9, 2005 4:24PM; Updated: Friday September 9, 2005 4:24PM

The biggest opportunity Stoudemire will take advantage of in the near future is his contract, which expires after next season. Stoudemire looks to improve upon his rookie deal, which will pay him about $2.6 million next season. He could sign a five-year $72.6 million contract -- the most Phoenix can offer the all-star power forward under the new collective-bargaining agreement.

Although Stoudemire will make more money staying in Phoenix than if he goes to another team, he says he won't completely close the door on possible suitors. The highest-profile team on that list is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have worked in earnest this summer to clear as much cap room as possible for the 2007 off-season, refusing to sign any new players for more than two years.


"I'm a businessman," says Stoudemire. "I'm going to listen but I already know what they got to say, 'Amare, we want to give you the max.'"

While the Suns contract would be slightly more lucrative than the Lakers', many people believe the money lost on the contract can be replaced with the endorsements and acting gigs that come with playing in a big city such as Los Angeles.

"It's true," says Stoudemire, whose favorite vacation spot is California's sun-kissed Malibu Beach. "I think New York and LA are the two highest market cities and both of those places are great as far as opportunities go off the court."

Although Stoudemire might be the top player on many teams' wish lists, it would still be a major surprise to most -- even him -- if he weren't wearing a Suns' uniform for the foreseeable future. "I'm happy here," says Stoudemire. "My focus is on the Suns and doing big things with this team."

As Stoudemire wraps up his motion capture session, he doesn't miss the opportunity to hit a few shots from the outside before calling it a day with one last powerful dunk. "I'm always improving my skills and they never have me as good as I should be in the game," he says. "So now they got a sneak peak at what I got going on, but the video game version of me will never be as good as the real me. It can't, I'm real-life flesh and blood baby."

The only drawback to being the real Stoudemire these days is getting into -- and now out of -- that pesky skin-tight body suit.

The Last Word

Thanks to all of you who answered my question last week about the most obscure establishment you've ever heard of owned by an athlete, coach or announcer. Unfortunately many of the places you mentioned had been shut down (Barry Switzer's Fried Chicken Ranch in Oklahoma) or too mainstream to be obscure (like Tim Horton's in Canada). There was, however, one in particular, sent in by Boyd Myers in Knoxville, Tenn., that took the cake or the spare ribs and orange chicken as it may be. He pointed out that professional wrestling legend Abdullah the Butcher owns a restaurant in Atlanta called Abdullah the Butcher's House of Ribs and Chinese Food. Abdullah's favorite dish is a stir-fried combination of chopped meats and baby shrimp with water chestnuts, green peppers and broccoli in a soy-based sauce.