Thinking about Amar’e Stoudmire in 2013 really sucks.
Knicks fans remember STAT pulling on his Knicks fitted outside MSG in July 2010, declaring “the Knicks are back,” when they really weren’t yet. They remember an MVP candidate from later that year, averaging more than 25 points per game and throwing down terrorizing dunks on anyone who thought about contesting him. They remember him deferring the spotlight to a newly acquired Carmelo Anthony, after it was he who already took over New York City’s billboards.
Fans remember Amar’e tweaking his back during the 2011 playoffs, throwing down a dunk in the layup line, of all things. But then they also remember him putting on 15 pounds of muscle the following offseason to combat the injury and come back stronger. They remember, too, how that muscle only made him slower in 2011-12. They watched him play that year a step slow, a non-threat, and without the killer elbow-jumper that was a staple in the team’s 2010-11 offense.
Injury by injury, they watched his body deteriorate, just as the Phoenix Suns medical staff predicted. First a knee in October 2012, then the other knee the following March. Then an unknown knee that summer.
Now here we are in 2013. Just three years ago, a top force in the NBA, nobody can say with 100 percent certainty that Stoudemire belongs in the NBA anymore. He lacks explosion up and down, side to side, still the same turnstile on defense, and can’t play more than 15 minutes a night. Or play in back-to-backs.
Stoudemire’s body bailed on him halfway through a five-year, $100 million contract.
Now, the guy who used to be Amar’e Stoudemire will earn $45 million from James Dolan over the next two seasons. His doctors permit him to play a few minutes here and there, and Woodson allocates him those spot minutes whenever he can.
And that’s the problem.
Through most of last season, it became perfectly clear that the Knicks have moved on from Stoudemire. He’s no longer built into the team’s plans; in fact, he sticks out like a sore thumb whenever he’s tried to help out this year.
Amar’e has the worst net-rating on the team, by far, of guys that’ve played at least 70 minutes, via NBA.com. The Knicks get outscored by 26 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Yeah, it’s that bad.
Sure, he has the same name as the guy that was named to numerous All-Star teams, and yeah, he’s owed a ton of money. Everything he says leads you to believe he doesn’t deserve what’s happened to him, and maybe Woodson—not unlike Knicks fans—want to see Amar’e prove everyone wrong, channel vintage STAT and take fools to work on the block for however long he can.
As a fan, of course I want to see Stoudemire do the things he was doing in 2011. I sympathize for the guy that’s had his life, as he knew it, taken from him and shaken upside-down. Think about it. Amar’e Stoudemire is a basketball player. For a time, one of the best in the world. And now, in the world’s most painful blink of an eye, his biggest contributions are his off-the-bench daps.
I’m in the camp that believes a guy can have all the money in the world, but it takes more than that to equal happiness. Amar’e has played basketball for almost 30 years, and for say, 28 of those, a really damn good one. Am I supposed to have hard feelings towards the player whose passion has been stolen from him at no fault of his own?
The sad truth is, though, that two years from now, when his deal expires and he’s collected every last dime from the Knicks, Amar’e’s going to be done with professional basketball. For all intents and purposes, he was done a year ago.
The sooner Woodson understands this, the better. It’s not a punishment or an indictment, and it’s certainly not the Marbury treatment. But please, for the sake of everyone involved, just keep Amar’e away from the court.
Now I’m sad. I’m gonna watch this for the next few days.
You can find a version of this post, and more words, here.