Amar’e Stoudemire’s star-crossed five-season run with the New York Knicks came to an end around this time last year, when the Knicks bought out the oft-injured big man out in the last year of his deal. Stoudemire went on to sign with the Mavericks to finish 2014-15, and caught on with the Miami Heat over the summer. He’s now starting for the Chris Bosh-less squad.
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The center visited Madison Square Garden for the first time since his parting of ways with New York on Sunday night, and the Heat handily downed the Knicks by a 98-81 score. Prior to the contest, Stoudemire candidly answered questions regarding one of the more tumultuous seasons in Knick history (and that’s saying something) – the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign that saw Jeremy Lin taking a star turn out of nowhere alongside Amar’e and Carmelo Anthony.
“Everyone wasn’t a fan of him being the new star,” Stoudemire said without mentioning specific players. “So he didn’t stay long. But Jeremy was a great, great guy. Great teammate. He worked hard. He put the work in and we’re proud of him to have his moment. A lot of times you gotta enjoy someone’s success. And that wasn’t the case for us during that stretch.
“You got to enjoy that. You got to let that player enjoy himself and cherish those moments. He was becoming a star and I don’t think everybody was pleased with that.”
“When you get involved in this situation, you have to take ownership of it,” Stoudemire said. “You have to make sure you made the right decisions for your team and teammates. You have to become a complete player in order to bring your team out of a rut. Everyone can’t do it.”
If you’ll recall, Anthony reportedly bristled in his first full year (kind of) as a Knick at Lin’s ascension. A training camp-cut in the preseason, the point guard came out of nowhere to act as the hybrid guard of then-coach Mike D’Antoni’s dreams, even making two Sports Illustrated covers, prior to a knee sprain that ended his season. Lin then signed on with the Houston Rockets during the offseason, where he worked through an inconsistent run prior to be traded to the Lakers. Signed by Charlotte during the 2015 offseason, the point has enjoyed a bounce-back year of sorts.
"Still?" Anthony asked when told that Lin came up when reporters talked to Stoudemire. "That was [four] years ago? I don't know. I don't have no comment about that. If [Lin] was becoming a star, we should embrace that. I don't know. We didn't embrace it? Was that the word?"
"S---, if that was the case then I'd be upset right now with KP [rookie fan favorite Kristaps Porzingis], if he's talking about me. I doubt if [Stoudemire is] talking about me. I doubt that. I highly doubt that."
Amar’e Stoudemire was totally talking about Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony has the benefit of the last four years on his side. It isn’t as if the Knicks have done great work in the years since (they made the playoffs in 2013, but they’re on their way to a third-straight turn in the lottery, where they’ll give up their pick), but Lin’s New York introduction as a star has not sustained. He’s averaging about 12 points and three assists off the bench in Charlotte, basically working as an average combo guard. There’s nothing wrong with that, plenty of teams would be happy to have him, but he hasn’t been the same since his knee injury.
Even in four years’ time, though, it’s easy to see why Carmelo has taken to Kristaps Porzingis more than he (reportedly!) did to Lin.
After years of sharing the ball with Andre Miller, Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson in Denver, Anthony was champing at the bit to act as a ball dominator in New York. A trade (with Billups, who was let loose following his lone season in New York) to the Knicks in 2011 was cobbled together with Anthony’s encouragement – with New York giving up significant assets for a player they could have signed outright in free agency a few months later.
The NBA’s lockout delayed Carmelo’s first real season-long chance as acting as New York’s franchise player, and then Lin had to come along and dominate the ball. Stuck in his prime, not on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Carmelo (reportedly!) chafed.
In 2016, though, Anthony appears to have cooled off. This isn’t a shot at him, but he’s happy with his situation, even if it means missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season. He has a no-trade clause that, to this point, he’s been unwilling to waive in order to be shipped to a contender. Porzingis will reach his prime just as Anthony’s contract expires in 2019, so this situation is hardly ideal, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to live in New York City while playing in Madison Square Garden 41 times a year.
Even if you only play there 41 times a year, with no scheduled playoff contests.
There’s nothing wrong with Dad Melo’s lifestyle approach, and there would be nothing wrong with his approach should he deign to ask Phil Jackson to move him along to a contender a year or two from now.
Against the odds, with a competent general manager finally running things, the New York Knicks put together a solid team around Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. There were mistakes made along the way, but that had more to do with bad influences on the team’s owner than anything else. Had Amar’e’s knees and back not fallen apart (as the legendary Phoenix Suns training staff predicted) not fallen apart, this could have turned into a fearsome outfit.
Instead, years later, we’re still doing excavation work on Pennsylvania Plaza.
Luckily, in spite of disparate records, you get the feeling that all in Miami, Charlotte, and New York are happy with their lot in NBA life.
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