Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Since the start of the 2008-09 season is less than 50 days away — whoa, where in the hell did the summer go? — it's about time I roll out a few "NBA wishes." They are, in no particular order: Julius Hodge returns, dominates; the Raptors make the second round of the playoffs; Jamal Crawford blogs about D'Antoni's inevitable mental breakdown; and Amare Stoudemire's career swagger returns from the ashes.

And while I have high hopes for my "JOBosh Raps" this season, it sounds as though that final "wish" may have the most realistic chance of coming true. Paul Coro at The Arizona Republic checks in with Amare:

"He is talking about and working on his defense. He declares his passion for the game to be at an all-time high, bringing him to the court morning and night most weekdays. He is raving about his new coach, Terry Porter, and teammates.

He is worry-free about his surgically repaired knees. And his good effort has extended off the court, having just returned from a week in Sierra Leone to be part of a project to rehabilitate water wells that he helped fund.

'I feel fit and fierce,' he said. 'My health is tremendous. I have no worries about extra work. Before, I never wanted to overwork. I always wanted to do more, but I was coming back from injuries. I can do whatever I want on the court without second-guessing now.'"

So just how "fit and fierce" is he? Apparently, very. Here's Amare again, this time via the East Valley Tribune:

'I'm at 2 percent body fat and 245 pounds and my (knees) ... I feel like I can do anything I want on the court again,' he said."

To put that in perspective, Dime drops this knowledge: "Karl Malone, who was called "the strongest and best conditioned basketball player on the planet," by The Sporting News, weighed in at five-percent body fat and 265 lbs. It's tough to imagine anyone being more jacked than Malone was."

I know it's mostly off-season rhetoric, but a motivated Amare Stoudemire brings me peace of mind. I can't wait for this season to start.

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