Suns forward Shawn Marion is always quick to let anyone within earshot know that he’s amazing, an MVP candidate in fact. Just last year, he was singing his own praises.

“If I’m averaging 20 and 10 and I’m 6-7 and 225, am I just supposed to do that?” Marion (above, right) said late in the regular season as he lay on a hotel bed playing handheld electronic poker. “How the hell do I not get the same credit as Garnett and Tim Duncan and those guys? I’m 225, barely. Is this just what we’ve come to expect of Shawn?”

Marion sat up and put the game aside as he continued.

“It’s frustrating because I’ve been doing this since I got here. I’ve been playing with Jason Kidd, Stephon Marbury and Steve Nash and been able to adjust my game to everyone.”

Well, the Matrix is at it again, and no better time to campaign for himself than during his sort-of homecoming to Las Vegas for the All-Star Game. This time, Marion isn’t just an MVP candidate. Oh, no.

For Marion, it was much of the same. Fantasy league owners and opposing coaches adore him. Even with a loaded West forward crop, Marion was named to the team. But he continued to resent that it was even up for debate.

“It sucks that I’ve got to speak up for myself more than ever,” he said. “But at the same time, people who know and see what I’m doing out there know what I’m capable of.

“I have the ability, and I have the determination to be one of the best small forwards to ever play the game, if not the best. Hopefully, I’m almost at that. By the time I hang my shoes up, I’m going to be the best small forward ever to play this game – all-around, anyway.”

Just off the top of my head, I’d still take Scottie Pippen — in his prime, anyway — over Marion. I’ll give Marion this: He can jump and he’s as athletic as anyone in the league. But I’d never let him run the point like Pippen could, and have you seen him shoot? His short-arm delivery looks like a T-Rex taking a jump shot.

But for “the best small forward ever to play this game,” he makes a hell of a local furniture pitchman.