I posted this to my own blog but I thought I would repost it here to share with the P&T community.
One of my current favorite players on the New York Knicks has probably played his last games of the season for the orange and blue. Amar'e "STAT" Stoudemire has once again succumbed to a knee injury after already missing two months of this NBA season. STAT has been great in his return to the team, provided a power punch in his new role as super sub and transformed how he plays the game which is very impressive considering he's been in the league for 11 seasons with a very impressive resume including six all start appearances, an all NBA selection and being awarded rookie the year. Not many players object to changing their role at this point in their accomplished career, but not STAT he's been down for the team since day one when he proclaimed, "the Knicks are back".
Before I get too far into this let me be completely honest, I am an Amar'e Stoudemire supporter-fan-apologist but I have not always been. During the summer of Lebron or 2003 as the liberal media would call it, the Knicks were linked to STAT as he was on the outs with Phoenix I was adamant that the Knicks shouldn't sign Amar'e because the cost, his statistics and his injury history. I defended homegrown Knickerbocker David Lee as a younger, cheaper equally valuable substitute. I was not alone in this sentiment, as I find that Knicks fans will defend their own drafted players like they were their own children/siblings. As history came to pass STAT was signed to a 5 year $100 million deal and David Lee was signed and traded to the Golden State Warriors where he continued to have a good career.
It was nearly immediate that STAT opened his arms to the team of youngsters and the city of New York. STAT led the team through the tumultuous times, earning some early season MVP pub, as the cloud of the pending trade for Carmelo Anthony hung overhead. Knicks management added Carmelo Anthony and then Tyson Chandler to give the Knicks a big three to compete with the likes of the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. Fans like myself appreciated that not only did STAT take the money but he also took the challenge of suiting up for one of the most popular teams in the NBA with one of the most ardent media markets in the world.
Many people, especially ESPN talking heads Mike Wilbon and Bill Simmons, will denounce the Stoudemire signing as a huge mistake because of the injuries that STAT has suffered and the difficulties in playing the three players together. I vehemently disagree with this notion for one reason, the New York Knicks are not contending for Atlantic Division let alone a trip to the Eastern Conference Championship. With no STAT the Knicks would've wasted the previous 2-3 seasons clearing cap and losing games. With no STAT there is no on the court reasons for Carmelo Anthony or Tyson Chandler to want to agree to come to Gotham. With no STAT there probably isn't even the phenomenon of Linsanity. The Knicks without signing STAT would be a middling team at the bottom of the playoff standings in NBA purgatory with a potentially talented young core without a superstar to put them into the conversation. To the detractors I say without the STAT signing what stops the Knicks from being who the Knicks had been for years beforehand?
STAT plays the game with passion, he has proven time and time again that he is willing to put the team first. He's carried the team at times and played a role and has put on a happy face about it at each step unlike many high profile players in the NBA. In truth the Phoenix Suns made a prudent decision to only offer a three year deal to STAT because their doctors estimated that his knees would only last three seasons. We're in season three and it appears that those docs in Phoenix knew a thing or two about medicine. This is the hard truth regarding the signing, but I contend it has been and will continue to be worth it. Don't write the obituary on STAT's career just yet because Amar'e has proven time and time again that he will Stand Tall And Talented in the face of adversity.