There's a question that plenty of us — especially those of us who claim New York Knicks fandom as our particular badge of courage — have found ourselves turning over in the hours since Monday night's Game 2: What the hell could Amar'e Stoudemire have been thinking when he launched a left toward the case surrounding a fire extinguisher in the bowels of the AmericanAirlines Arena following a 10-point loss to the Miami Heat? The end result — a lacerated hand, a scratch from Game 3 with the Knicks down 0-2 and possibly putting a wrap on Amar'e's season — couldn't possibly have been worth the satisfaction he thought he'd get out of wailin' on something, could it?
After more than 24 hours of being publicly pilloried for the punch, Stoudemire spoke to assembled media members in New York on Wednesday, aiming to clear up some misconceptions. To the ear of Marc Berman at the New York Post, the former All-Star forward "didn't seem repentant, either."
"Fans actually think I had a closed fist and punched through a glass door," Stoudemire said. "They have [the] wrong perception of what actually happened. I walked by and swung my arm backwards. It hit the fire extinguisher door and I slashed my hand a little bit by accident. I understand their frustrations right now. I'm frustrated with myself as well."
Asked what triggered the incident, Stoudemire said, "We're down 0-2 and I knew how important it was to get a win in Miami. We played somewhat well enough to win Game 2. I was more frustrated we were down 0-2. It wasn't as if I was trying to take out the fire extinguisher door. I wanted to make noise and let out some frustration."
This, of course, is what most pieces sympathetic to Stoudemire's situation — including the one written by Our Fearless Leader and, with a variant personal bent, by Hardwood Paroxysm's Steve McPherson — have argued and on which they've focused. Passion's passion and pain's pain; not feeling it would be inhuman and not reacting to it isn't always realistic; and sometimes when you blow off some steam, you wind up with a steam burn.
And this, of course, isn't necessarily wrong; as Stoudemire noted in his chat with the press, "Some players kick over ice coolers. Some players tip over a table. Some players even hit a chair. My thing was to hit a wall and I sliced my hand." You can argue that Stat's "thing" sucked, that his unlucky outcome ("I just walked by the door and it's made of 85 percent metal and 2 percent glass, a strip of glass") sucked and that the position in which it put the Knicks sucked. But you can't really argue that his intent was something crazy.
Unless, of course, you write the videos animated by Taiwanese studio NMA, which enjoys viewing everything as something crazy, or at the very least making everything into something crazy.
As you would expect, the NMA clip offers a nuanced take on New York's present predicament. A Heat player using fallen Knicks as dunk steppingstones, Amar'e's entire left hand falling off and being sewn back on by a policeman, Carmelo Anthony's refusal to work the pick-and-roll over reverting to his ball-hogging ways spurring Mike D'Antoni's resignation, the casting of the future of the Knicks as a power struggle between 'Melo and Amar'e ... it's all there. Plus, of course, buckets of blood, a man on fire, political cartoon-worthy signposts to significance and an embattled James Dolan. It's got everything. (The insinuation that what led Amar'e to swing on a stationary hunk of glass and metal was frustration stemming from Anthony popping 41 shots to Stoudemire's 16 through two games probably ain't half wrong, though.)
Whatever the explanation for Stoudemire's injury, he won't start at the four for the Knicks in Game 3. According to Knicks coach Mike Woodson, it'll be Anthony at power forward, where he produced his best performances of the year during the April stretch that got the Knicks the No. 7 seed.
Anthony may square off against proud papa Chris Bosh in the starting lineup; if not, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra could shift LeBron James up to power forward to continue blotting out 'Melo's star like a total eclipse, slot an in-shooting-form Shane Battier in at the three spot and continue rolling apace. Unless Anthony figures out some way to score on James that he hasn't through two games, that kind of alignment could produce yet another outcome that's frustrating enough to make Knicks fans want to haul off and hit something themselves. Lord knows they've had plenty of that through the series' first two games.
Hat-tip on the animation video to I Am A GM.