Their contributions to reviving the team's winning culture like Shawn Marion did are undeniable, but Marion, the team's 2023 Ring of Honor inductee, doesn't see Paul and Ayton getting in.
Paul and Ayton helped lead Phoenix to the 2021 finals, its first finals appearance in 28 years after 10 years of missing the postseason. They were part of the team's Big 3 with Booker before its new top trio in Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal.
The future Hall of Famer Paul was traded to Washington in the Beal deal in June, and the team's former No. 1 overall pick Ayton was shipped off to Portland on Wednesday. Paul spent the past three seasons in Phoenix and Ayton was drafted in 2018.
“That’s not for me to decide, but that’s not how it’s worked down,” Marion said. “Personally, probably no because people in that Ring of Honor, look at their spreadsheets and go back and look at everybody in that Ring of Honor. Most of them had long tenures here (and) are top five, I mean top 10 or top 15 categories in the Suns history. I don’t think they fill in those stats or none of those. I don’t think they qualify."
He added, “Devin Booker is because he’s been here. He’s longer tenured than anybody. I would think he’d probably end up being the No. 1 scorer in Phoenix history before it’s all said and done, within the next three to five years.
Marion left Phoenix as second on all-time in rebounding and steals, third in blocks, and fifth in points. Booker, who's entering his ninth year, is first in 3s made, fourth in points, and seventh in assists. Ayton is eighth in rebounds.
Phoenix Suns’ 2023 Ring of Honor inductee Shawn Marion explains why he feels Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton shouldn’t be in Ring of Honor.
Paul and Ayton were traded in June and on Sept. 27 after 3 and 5 years with Suns, respectively, after helping lead them to the 2021 finals. pic.twitter.com/xORwK8s4hB
— DANA (@iam_DanaScott) September 29, 2023
He came to Phoenix as Marion, left as 'Matrix'
Thursday's 12th annual Jerry Colangelo Basketball Hall of Fame Golf Classic dinner soirée at Litchfield Park's Wigwam Golf Resort was awash with the sport's legends and a charity auction selling rare college and pro basketball memorabilia.
The event's namesake and former Phoenix Suns owner Colangelo also shared his memory of how the team first entered its own "Matrix" in 1999, the same year the blockbuster sci-fi action film was released.
Colangelo was like Morpheus and an elite basketball scout resisting popular demand drafting UNLV's long-limbed junior forward Shawn Marion at No. 9 overall instead of Duke's one-and-done, muscular, dunk exhibitionist Corey Maggette.
"Everyone had this push to take Maggette, a forward from Duke. And when it came time for us to select, I took Shawn Marion," Colangelo said. "The media afterward said to me, ‘How could you pass up on Maggette from Duke?’ I said, ‘It’s pretty simple. I like Shawn Marion better.' And he had 17-year career.”
Maggette, who ended up being taken 13th by the Seattle Supersonics, was the sixth man on a dominant 37-2 team that lost two months prior in the national championship to Connecticut. Marion was a leading scorer and defensive specialist on a 16-13 team that was still shaking off the stigma of its former coach Jerry Tarkanian's NCAA recruiting violation-marred program from the early 1990s. The Chicago native Colangelo also told The Republic that he was partial to Marion because he's from that same area.
The four-time All-Star Marion spent his first nine years in Phoenix as the rim-rocking Pegasus finisher in the team's revolutionary small-ball Seven Seconds or Less offense. His career average was 15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.1 blocks. His best production was in Phoenix at 18.4, 10.0, 2.0, 1.9, and 1.4 in those categories.
In August, the Suns announced that Marion's No. 31 jersey and his former teammate Amar'e Stoudemire's No. 32 will be retired as the team's 2023 Ring of Honor inductees.
“I had some tremendous seasons here in Phoenix. I came in as Shawn Marion and grew as The Matrix here, became a household name here," Marion told The Republic.
"I imprinted in the Valley here and it’s still standing here to this day. I grew up here. It’s a big part of me now. Every time I come back here, I feel the presence. I feel the love. I feel the energy. It’s a great time. It’s just unfortunate that we fell short of winning a championship.”
Led by two-time MVP Steve Nash, Marion and Stoudemire, Phoenix never got to NBA finals after reaching the Western conference finals in 2005, 2006 and 2010. But after Phoenix went into a rebuild the latter year, Marion won the title with Dallas the next season after he was acquired in a sign-and-trade.
Marion's not in the Hall of Fame yet, but Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler is one of his biggest advocates.
Marion paralleled Drexlers' gravity-defying highlight reels during his prime.
"Shawn was electric in the fast break," Drexler said. "He was a great rebounder. He also played power forward and Shawn is 6-7, so he played much bigger than his size. But he was glue guy for any team. Shawn was a consummate teammate, and he was also a winner. I had a lot of respect for his game. Shawn is deserving to be in the Hall of Fame."
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Shawn Marion say Paul, Ayton shouldn't be in Suns Ring of Honor