There are times when the Suns’ Amar’e Stoudemire looks like a tailback
hitting a seam as he barrels his way toward his end zone – the rim.
Stoudemire’s body is jostled like a pinball as defenders bang and clang, and there’s nothing to protect Stoudemire’s frame but a jersey – or so it would appear. But Stoudemire goes to battle with armor.
Like most NBA players, he wears pads.The NBA version of protection may not resemble NFL shoulder pads, but padded shorts and vests
are as common as high tops.What each player needs in the way of gear for protection (or superstition) varies from Stoudemire’s extensive ensemble to a teammate’s preference for nothing at all.
"You’ve got guys who hold, push, shove and hit, so the undergear keeps me protected," said Stoudemire, a padding pioneer about three years ago, along with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. "You wear the combat pads to protect your ribs, back, thighs, quads. It helps. I haven’t got any bruises. Normally, when you set a screen, you get kneed in a thigh or ‘bowed in your ribs. It protects you from all that. It definitely helps."
Each Suns player, except veterans Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Jarron Collins and rookie Earl Clark, wears the foam-padded compression shorts (protecting hips, tailbone and outer thighs), top (protecting ribs) or both. Jason Richardson always wears padded shorts but asked for a padded vest for his last matchup with Bryant.
"I’m gonna need the armor," he said that day of a vest with quarter-inch-thick pads, which he took off during the game.