On July 5th, 2010, the New York Knicks and Amar’e Stoudemire agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract. He eventually inked his name on the dotted line on July 10th, 2010. Stoudemire, in his introduction press conference, proclaimed that “the Knicks are back.”
He, alongisde Carmelo Anthony, led the Knicks to three straight post-season appearances, two of which were first round exits. Stoudemire was only a key player for only one of those playoff appearances; 2011, 0-4 loss to the Boston Celtics.
In his 4 and half season tenured with the Knicks, Stoudemire played 255 games and started in 160 of those. Stoudemire scored 4,411 points, grabbed 1,713 rebounds and blocked 287 shots. Stoudemire was a very effective scorer, as he shot 52% from the field and 78% from the free throw line. In his Knick debut, Stoudemire posted 19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and a 1-0 record to begin the season.
Here are his top five moments, in no particular order, as a New York Knick.
A Dunk Show in Lob City
In this early season matchup, New York headed out for a west coast road trip and the Los Angeles Clippers were the final team on the docket. This game featured a highlight-reel duel between Stoudemire and Clippers explosive rookie, Blake Griffin. Griffin finished the night with 44 points and that was not enough.
Both teams thrived in transition and defense was not a top priority. It was not a one man show for New York, Danilo Gallinari posted 31 points with 17 of those on the fourth quarter.
Stoudemire led the Knicks to a 124-115 win, posting 39 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks.
What made this even more impressing, individually and as a team, is that it was the back-end of a west coast swing. New York battled the Golden State Warriors the night before, in which they won, and earlier in the trip they defeated the Hornets, who were in sublime form at the time.
From November 28th, 2010, through to December 15th, 2010, Amar’e Stoudemire scored 30 or more points in nine consecutive games. That was a new record for the Knicks. Over that stretch Stoudemire averaged 34.4 points.
Not only did he score at will, Stoudemire also lead the Knicks to eight consecutive wins before going down to Celtics at the buzzer – Stoudemire drained a three at the buzzer but he released it late.
Stoudemire was the catalyst for the early season turn around. The Knicks sat with a record of eight wins and nine losses. Stoudemire’s scoring spree led to eight straight wins which propelled the Knicks to a record of 16-9.
With the Knicks improved play as a whole and Stoudemire’s tremendous play to begin the year he was in the Most Valuable Player conversation.
The Resounding Rebound
It looked as though the Knicks season was down the drain, they sat 11 games behind the eighth seeded Atlanta Hawks with only one quarter remaining in the season. It all changed when Stoudemire was inserted into the starting lineup.
The Knicks were riding a seven game losing streak prior to their eight game winning streak during the 2013-14 season. Stoudemire was one of the keys to the Knicks late season push. He along with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith led New York to a 16-5 finish to the season but the Knicks eventually missed the playoffs by 0.5 games.
During this stretch, the 32-year-old averaged 16.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks whilst shooting 54% from the field and 74% from the free throw line.
The numbers may not be astounding but the effectiveness that he played with was incredible. Defense and rebounding were foreign concepts to Stoudemire, they said that he could never play the five again, but Stoudemire locked down the paint and controlled the glass.
Stoudemire had been injury riddled for a majority of the 2011-12 season, playing 45 of 66 games, as well as for a large portion of the 2012-13 season as he only played played 29 games. While missing considerable time in the two seasons before, Stoudemire also struggled to find his footing for the first two and a half months of the 2013-14 season.
Vintage Stoudemire did indeed return.
Standing Tall and Talented as an All-Star
Prior to Stoudemire’s arrival, David Lee was the only Knick to have made it to the All-Star game after Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell did in 2001. Stoudemire was also the only Knick to start in an All-Star game since Patrick Ewing which was way back in 1992.
Yes, that’s correct, New York didn’t have an All-Star starter for 19 years!
Stoudemire was the catalyst of the Knicks turnaround in 2010, as he stated ‘the Knicks are back!’ Stoudemire made New York basketball entertaining once again. He was a scoring machine and he could not be slowed down. He along with Raymond Felton and Mike D’antoni played an up-and-down, run-and-gun style of basketball. Although Madison Square Garden was always sold-out, it finally returned to being a raucous and passionate crowd.
Stoudemire received 1,647,995 votes in 2011 and it was enough to claim one of the two starting forward spots. Stoudemire was a standout for the Eastern Conference, scoring 29 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 28 minutes of action.
New York hadn’t made the postseason since 2004. This wasn’t just about him believing that the Knicks were back, it was to put the world on notice, to make it known, on a big stage, that the New York Knicks were back. This All-Star selection was verification that the Knicks were returning from the dark shadows of the eastern conference.
His play prior to the All-Star break was stellar, it was incredible that Carmelo Anthony forced his way to the Big Apple to be with Stoudemire.
The Buzzer Beater That Nearly Was…
The Knicks entered the 2010-11 season having missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons. There were many whom thought that the addition of Stoudemire would not make a big difference.
As professional sports is a form of entertainment, television stations, a majority of the time, televise only the good and entertaining teams. Prior to Stoudemire’s arrival, Knicks basketball wasn’t all that impressive or exciting. The Knicks were thought to be a poor team and nationally televised games were far and few between for New York.
Riding eight straight wins and looking for an ninth consecutive, New York battled the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden during prime time on ESPN. The Celtics were no pushovers either, they entered the contest atop the East and riding 10 straight wins. Stoudemire was a one-man wrecking crew that night, and the whole country saw not only his good play, but the solid and much improved play of the Knicks as a whole.
Stoudemire poured in 39 points, 23 in the first half, grabbed 10 rebounds and swatted three shots. You may remember the finish to the game; Stoudemire popped out to three point line from straight on and drained a three ball, nothing but net, and the Knicks had won! But, upon further review it was ruled no basket as Stoudemire release it after the horn.
Although the Knicks lost and Stoudemire scored 39 points, it has nothing to do with that. Boston was a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference and the Knicks were a young, upcoming team. On national television, for all fans to see, the thought to see the mediocre Knicks hold their own and battle hard with one of the leagues’ toughest teams was amazing.
The result of the game and Stoudemire’s performance notified the world that the Knicks, were once again, a competitive team in the East.
While we have witnessed Stoudemire almost single handedly put New York basketball back on the map, there have been times when he has left much to be desired.
– After game two in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, Stoudemire decided that it was a good idea to punch through glass and into a fire extinguisher. The result was a huge laceration to his hand, and him missing some time during an important playoff series with the Miami Heat.
– Last season against the Pistons in Detroit, it seemed as though Stoudemire was in a video game and his controller died at the worst possible time, as he was left on the wrong side of the pass, looking hapless.
– I’m sorry to say. Amar’e, but cornrows (late in the 2011-12 season) don’t suit you, they did indeed look better atop Carmelo Anthony’s head.
– Against the Bobcats last year, Stoudemire passed the ball to a lady in the front row which resulted in numerous alcoholic beverages being spilt all over the court. Truly Shaqtin’ a fool.
In all seriousness, one quality of Stoudemire, which often goes unnoticed, is his humility. He had been battling injuries from the end of the 2010-11 season through to the middle of last season. Despite all of the injuries he stayed positive and recovered in time to bolster the Knicks attack down the stretch last season.
Stoudemire had openly said, prior to the 2012-13 season, that it was most definitely Carmelo Anthony’s attack. He did not complain, he never once said it was his team and not Carmelo Anthony’s. Stoudemire had also been a terrific team player. When he was moved to be the Knicks sixth man Stoudemire, not even once, disputed Mike Woodson’s decision.
He has made many sacrifices in an attempt to get the New York Knicks back to relevancy.
Thank you Amar’e Stoudemire.