“The Knicks are back,” he proclaimed, surrounded by cameras and microphones the day his five-year, $100 million contract became official. He believed it, the fans believed it, I believed it. I also believed in Stephon Marbury, so there's that little nugget of information. STAT4PREZ was my ESPN login until they required a Facebook account to comment. I love this goddamn team and I can't explain it. I love them more than the Yankees and the New York Football Giants combined. I'm delusional, maybe, but I really wouldn't have it any other way. The Knicks just need to bring me one title before I leave Earth. And when they signed Amar'e Stoudemire with cap room to spare, I really thought a Larry O'Brien was within reach.
He had enough courage to wade these waters alone and for that, Knicks fans will always be grateful.
We had a star, his former coach when he was at his zenith in Mike D'Antoni, and a supporting cast to go with them. How could this not work? Right? RIGHT!?!?!? The Suns were close a few times in a stacked Western Conference. Why couldn't he and Amar'e recreate that magic? The Knicks had stunk it up for a decade, making the playoffs only twice and losing in the first round in both instances. There were about six or seven different coaching changes during that span, and at least 300 players were signed, traded, etc. New York fans know basketball...and we didn't deserve this was.
That brings us to the magical summer of 2010. The Knicks and every other NBA franchise with enough salary cap space tried to land LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or Stoudemire—in that order. Pat Riley and the Miami Heat pulled off a coup for the ages, snatching the top three free agents while simultaneously pouring salt in the wounds of Knick fans one more time. That left us with Amar'e and Raymond Felton as consolation prizes.
You know what, though? It could've been worse. Before Melo and Jeremy Lin got into town, Stoudemire was the Big Apple's hottest ticket. He scored 30-plus points in nine straight games—a franchise record. We made three straight playoff appearances and landed Melo. Carmelo would not be here if it weren't for Amar'e. That can be a negative depending on who you ask, although I personally can't complain about having a star in his prime locked up for a few more years, $30 million in cap space, and a lotto pick on the horizon.
Carmelo would not be here if it weren't for Amar'e.
Amar'e's time in New York was a tragic success. We tried, man, we tried. Did Stoudemire come for the money or for the glory? He came for both. The New York media and its fans are relentless, and through all the knee injuries and questions about his desire, Amar'e took on that burden with class. He had enough courage to wade these waters alone, and for that Knicks fans will always be grateful. We are in full-on tank mode and I fucking love it. This period of purposeful losing was 15 years in the making. Contenders are built through the draft and with a mix of luck. The health of centerpieces has a lot to do with luck, and the Knicks just didn't have that advantage these last five seasons. We tried, man. We tried. Tis the life of a Knick fan.
Regardless of how you feel about his space cadet approach to defense and rebounding, or the shit-out-of-luck fire extinguisher incident, Stoudemire always came to play if his health allowed it. Yeah I'm looking forward to seeing his contract get off the books, but I'm also disappointed to see him go. I would even bring him back for the right price. Amar'e's going to give Dallas a solid 15-20 minutes off the bench. They're also going to be extremely dangerous when Rajon Rondo returns. The Knicks on the other hand? In Phil We Trust.
Angel Diaz is a staff writer for Complex Media. Follow @ADiaz456.