The team, if it could be called that, was in disarray. A lengthening losing streak, tension in the locker room, and a growing feud between Mike D’ Antoni and Carmelo led the coach to leave New York for good. The Knicks godsend, Mike Woodson, took over and preached accountability, a word that was used 20397577 times through April and March, to guide New York to an 18-6 finish to the season. How could Knicks fans not be ecstatic going into the playoffs with the momentum of a thrusting rocketship?
And then everything turned to hell. Jeremy Lin had a meniscus tear in his knee, Iman Shumpert tore his ACL in the playoffs, and other support players like Baron Davis and Jared Jeffries were out as well. The group lost the first two games against the bodacious Heat, and as a result Amare Stoudemire decided topunch the glass of a fire extinguisher, tearing his hand and getting sidelined for the coming game. Sports journalists and fans were waiting like hawks for months to get the chance to rip apart Amare, and he simply handed the perfect opportunity to them. You see, he had been under performing for a year and a half and patience with him was growing thin. Fans were waiting outside Madison Square Garden with burning pitchforks hollering, “trade Amare!”
But isn’t this the same Amare that gave the Knicks a chance by signing with them two summers ago when no one else would? Isn’t this the same Amare that was in the running for MVP because his performance at MSG and revival of the Knicks was so stellar? Isn’t this the same Amare that fans adored when he did things like hit (almost) game winning three pointers (video)? And yet Knicks fans, including me, did what they do best-they lost faith. In reality, Amare may be the Knicks best shot at getting New York the coveted title they’ve long awaited.
Yes, it’s correct to say that Amare has been under performing. In fact, under performing may be an understatement-he hasn’t had a lower scoring average since his rookie season. His grandpa knees have gotten the best of him and there’s certainly been a decline in his game.
But even this broken Amare, who that has hit rock bottom, is averaging near 18 points and 8 rebounds a game. While those numbers aren’t worthy of the $20 million he’s being paid, he remains a reliable secondary scoring option to Carmelo Anthony and grabs enough rebounds to be considered a worthy power forward. Having his size and outside jumper keeps defenders more than honest, creating opportunities to open the floor more for his teammates. His consistency in getting to the line and not being like other big men, who are liabilities late in games due to poor FT%, would make him an invaluable asset to any team.
The truth is Amare Stoudemire was and is a star. But his star role had to take a hit because for the last year and a half there has been a new dog in town. The power forward had to take a 7 to 8 point dip every night in order to make room for the added 25 points being scored in the position next to him. There are not many, if any at all, other power forwards in the league who could provide the same numbers Amare is managing while playing next to heaviest iso player in the league in Carmelo Anthony.
There may not be many who believe it, but the Knicks have it good with Amare. He fills up the 4 position very nicely and, perhaps, will learn how to further improve playing in his new Beta Dog niche after working with the wizard, Hakeem Olajuwon, who is known for refining and transforming star players’ offensive games (like Kobe and LeBron, heard of them?). Trading Amare, hating Amare, or wishing he were someone else is not the answer for New York.