For Amare Stoudemire, it is a simple choice.

"Your contract is being nationally known," the Phoenix Suns' star center says. "They publicize it on TV and also newspapers worldwide. Guys, and girls, and everybody knows how much you're making. So you're a target. So you have to figure out where you want to spend your money - either on entertainment, or security."

It has never been less secure being an NBA star.

Yesterday, Hawks forward Shelden Williams was not injured after being carjacked at gunpoint in Atlanta before the Hawks' game against Charlotte. Two suspects were arrested with his car a few hours later.

Last week 's incident in Indianapolis, in which Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley's group was shot at by a group of men following them from a strip club, was the latest episode in which a player appeared to be targeted, rather than attacked at random. It was unclear whether Williams was targeted yesterday.

The Tinsley shooting followed the home invasions in Chicago last summer of Knicks center Eddy Curry and Timberwolves forward Antoine Walker, in which the players and members of their families were held at gunpoint. (Four local men were arrested and charged with robbing Curry and Walker last August.)

Last April, Detroit Pistons guard Flip Murray was threatened by two men on the porch of his home, after the men had approached a friend of Murray's as she neared the house. Then-76ers forward Joe Smith had more than $100,000 of jewelry taken from his Philadelphia hotel room last February.

Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair was robbed in New York last year. In January 2006, Clippers guard Cuttino Mobley had $500,000 in cash and jewels taken from his Los Angeles-area home.

Rockets guard Steve Francis and Knicks guard Stephon Marbury have been robbed in recent years. Walker was robbed previously in Chicago, in 2000, while sitting outside a fast-food restaurant with then-Sixers forward Nazr Mohammed (just traded Friday by Detroit to Charlotte).

In the wake of the murder of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor in his Miami home last month in what police believe was a botched robbery, NBA players are being advised not only to be more careful about their associations, but how they display their wealth.

"All these gold chains and things," Pacers president Larry Bird said. "Guys are making a lot more money than they used to. They're driving fancier cars. When you pull into a parking lot with a $200,000, $300,000 car, people notice. . . . We used to run around a little bit back in the day, but people are more jealous now."

"We've been trying to send a message with a lot more meaning than previously about the need for guys to protect themselves, but more importantly, to watch where they go," said Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players' union. "They have to be a lot more circumspect. Some of the places they used to go, they just can't go anymore."

Tinsley learned that the hard way, when he and a group including friends, relatives and the Pacers' equipment manager, Joey Qatato, went to an upscale men's club in three cars Dec. 8, after attending a concert and watching the Floyd Mayweather-Tommy Hatton fight at his downtown Indianapolis apartment.

After entering the club, Tinsley was told that a fight had taken place there earlier, and immediately decided to leave. But his group was confronted by another group, which gave Tinsley's group grief about the expensive cars they were driving.

The second group then tailed Tinsley's, giving chase as Tinsley's group drove at speeds exceeding 100 m.p.h., and followed them to a gas station. Tinsley then ordered his group to drive to a well-lit local hotel, instead of returning to his home.

But outside the hotel, the second group opened fire with an automatic weapon - "these bullets go through buildings," Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said - and wounded Qatato in both arms. Tinsley and the rest of his group escaped unharmed.

Local police quickly absolved Tinsley, who had been involved in two previous incidents outside nightclubs, of any blame.

But while the Pacers did not fine or otherwise discipline Tinsley, they made it clear to him that he had to start exercising better judgment.

"We told him, 'Jamaal, you can't go to those places. It's real simple. And now you know, because you almost got killed,' " Walsh said.

Said Bird: "I heard [Tinsley] tried to call our security guy. We have security here, and he tried to call the guy. But I told him, 'Jamaal, when you try to call somebody at 3:30 in the morning, they may have been in bed for six hours.' "

For his part, Stoudemire says he tells his friends to call before they come over to his house - and to come alone.

"You've got friends who feel free and feel like it's OK to bring in strangers inside your home," Stoudemire said, "when you've got valuables, you've got personal belongings, and you don't know these people. You've definitely got to watch that. And you've got to let your friends know, hey, it's serious out here. You can't just invite anybody to my place."

Contact staff writer David Aldridge at 215-854-5516 or daldridge@phillynews.com.