Culture of Hoops

Lost Hero: The Rise and Fall of Amar’e Stoudemire


Rewind. Early June 2010, New York City is buzzing. We’re back! New York Knicks basketball is finally crawling out of the dregs of the NBA basement. After years and years and years of heartbreak, let-downs and flat out embarrassment brought to fans by our beloved Knicks, there is finally light at the end of this tunnel.

It wasn’t Lebron James who came to town, but Amar’e Stoudemire who created a buzz all his own. He was a confidence boost to a fan base who saw their prodigal son, Stephon Marbury eat Vaseline via webcam and then fly off to China to resurrect his basketball life, only leading us to one playoff series, which ended in a sweep at the hands of the New Jersey Nets.

Stoudemire became the adrenaline in our veins. He was the coffee to our hangover. STAT put a breath of life back into the Mecca of basketball and he didn’t disappoint – 25 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks to begin his Knicks career. He was playing like an NBA All-Star and New York City loved him strong!

Fast forward two years and two knee procedures later and Amare Stoudemire is now a pariah. Ever since introducing his fist to a fire extinguisher after Game Two in a first round NBA Playoffs series against the Miami Heat in 2012, he has been at the forefront of every conversation concerning what is wrong with our beloved Knicks.

Have we forgotten his nine consecutive 30-point games? Did we forget that he took a chance on us by coming here during his free agency? Does he not deserve the opportunity to get fully healthy and once again prove he deserves the pomp and circumstance that showered him when he first arrived? New York is the greatest city in the world. We have the greatest fans. On the flip side, they are unforgiving and adhere to the age old adage, what have you done for me lately? In Stoudemire’s case, not much.

Granted, he showed glimpses of his former All-Star swag for a brief stretch when he returned from injury earlier this season, but that was short-lived. A second surgery on his oh-so-suspect knees knocked him out for the rest of the season (I don’t count those worthless minutes in the Indiana Pacer second round series), a season he vowed to return to his dominant ways. Stoudemire used the word “dominant,” “dominate,” and other denominations of the word in many, if not all, of his press conferences… and I believed it.

Call it Knick naïveté or whatever, but I had faith. This 2012-13 NBA season was our year! Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire can’t co-exist was bologna! Mix in the returning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler (my apparent doppelgänger) and we were going to make a run, a real run, a real, REAL run!

Then came the knee procedures, allegedly simple, but needing six weeks to recover. That doesn’t sound “simple.” We know the rest of this season’s story. We squeezed by the Boston Celtics in six games of our first round series, thanks to an “inadvertent” elbow by J.R. Smith, but lost focus and fell victim to Frank Vogel’s league-best Indiana Pacers defense. And now we’re fishing.

Let’s look at the reality.This is Melo’s team. Game on the line Melo has proven he is going to bring it. Chandler is the toughness, even though Roy Hibbert wiped his butt with my man, Tyson. However, Chandler had an injured neck and back and because he’s already won a title with the Dallas Mavericks and the aforementioned Defensive Player of the Year award, he gets a do-over.

Stoudemire, however, is out of do-overs. His contract is so diesel that no one wants to lift it. Amnesty is out of the question because the Knicks used it on Chauncey Billups to essentially sign Chandler. STAT’s only hope is himself. It may be unjust to suggest, but this summer, Amare Carsares Stoudemire needs to soul search. Once labeled a man-child, he is now an overpaid burnout.

Is that who you are Carsares? Are you washed up? Should we hand you the proverbial towel to throw in? I’m still a believer, STAT. You brought my faith back first. Not a title (yet), but at least I don’t have to hide my Knicks gear anymore. I wear YOUR jersey on game night. You’re the first reason why we walk proud again. Melo and Tyson and the rest of the gang are here to help YOU. You came to us when others ran to warmer climates and we won’t forget that.

But this summer will be telling of your progress to make a comeback. Next season is all you’ll have left to once again win the hearts of the Knicks faithful as you did almost exactly three years ago.

Rise again.

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