Times are tough in the Big Apple these days for New York Knicks fans. Only recently had the Knicks begun to play like the team many thought would contend for the Atlantic Conference crown, or at least pose a threat in the playoffs. Instead, they’re left with only their unlucky rabbit feet and Atlanta Hawks voodoo dolls. They needed the Hawks to lose, and they needed to win their own games. They needed a player to step up and be more assertive and impose his will.
If you’re thinking Carmelo Anthony, you’re only half right. Of course the Knicks needed Captain Carmelo to be his usual dynamic self, but the X-factor in the Knicks equation is always going to be Amar’e Stoudemire. And if these past few weeks are any indication, he seems to be ready to deliver and, as he puts it, “dominate” again. Even if we do have to wait until next season to see it.
STAT was, at one point, one of the most exciting, feared, premier superstars in the game. A few knee surgeries later and everyone has all but forgotten about him. He returned this season, but only sporadically showed glimpses of past glory, due to minute restrictions and recovery rust. As of recently it seems the minute restrictions were lifted and the STAT monster has been unleashed, chewing up competition. Since March, STAT is getting close to 30 minutes a game, and he is delivering, averaging 16 points and six and half rebounds per contest, while shooting 58 percent from the field.
The touch is still there. He hits the mid-range jumper with ease. His work with Hakeem Olajuwon is evident as his post moves have been flowing with dream-like ease. What’s really improved is his explosiveness. Not too long ago STAT was the main ingredient in the Steve Nash MVP recipe. That guy is showing his face again. Opponents are feeling the wrath when contesting STAT, and end up making a guest appearance on Shaquille O’Neal’s Diesel Dunks, and in STAT’s highlight reel
What I like most about his return to form for the one formerly known as Man Child (would he now be Man Man?), is that his confidence was always there. He never wavered from his stance that he is a dominant player, and can still dominate, dominantly, as a dominator, dominating. As his minutes increase (he played 40 minutes recently against Toronto) he doesn’t seem winded. Instead he seems to get stronger in the fourth quarter. I know that Melo is a super scorer, but Amar’e is looking pretty unstoppable himself. Against Toronto, Stoudemire took over in the fourth quarter (along with some strong defense from Iman “Sway” Shumpert) and got the Knicks that win. Melo scored his usually 30, but STAT’s 24 points and 11 rebounds (10-of 14 from the field) were pivotal in securing that game and holding on to that last thread of a playoff chance.
Despite the Knicks failing to make the postseason, STAT’s return to form is a good sign for Knicks fans. Newly appointed Knicks president, Zen Master Phil Jackson, will have to decide long and hard how he can make the STAT-Melo partnership succeed along with all the others pieces (or lack thereof) that he has to work with. With Stoudemire coming up on the last year of a contract that has been under more scrutiny that Lindsay Lohan, rumors are circulating on how the Knicks see STAT fitting in future plans. Some say that they may try to move him to clear up the cap space. He’s looking more and more attractive to suitors with his play as of late, and many teams will be knocking at the Knicks’ door for STAT’s services. Any questions about his health are being answered night in and night out. On the other side, the Knicks can keep Stoudemire and hope the Dr. Phil will be able to tap into the extensive wealth of talent that is the New York Knicks roster, and help them play as an actual team and be effective together.
Only the summer will tell. One thing is for sure” STAT is back and he’s here to #DOMINATE.
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