Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Stoudemire Breathed Life Back into Knicks

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Stoudemire Breathed Life Back into Knicks

Article excerpt

The news of Amar'e Stoudemire's decision to sign with the Knicks so that he could retire as a member of the franchise Tuesday came just a few weeks past the six-year anniversary of the last time he signed on with the team.

He arrived that day in 2010 with a proclamation that "The Knicks are back," a promise that would ring hollow, with his tenure in New York far more notable for his string of injuries than playoff victories that the team would earn.

Now, as the team is hoping to finally be back, back from depths that the franchise could not even imagine when the 2010 incarnation of a rebuild took root, Stoudemire is saying hello and goodbye, ending his NBA career at 33 years old. He signed the contract to retire as a Knick, not the team where he had his best years or the place where he spent the most time or even the place where he'd finished his playing days.

It seemed an odd choice after his years starring for the Phoenix Suns, when he combined with Steve Nash to form a tandem that had him seemingly fast-tracked to the Basketball Hall of Fame. His time in New York was filled with frustration, disappointment and surgery after surgery, as he became a punch line soaking in red wine baths.

"I came to New York in 2010 to help revitalize this franchise and we did just that," Stoudemire said in a statement. "Carmelo [Anthony], Phil [Jackson] and Steve [Mills] have continued this quest, and with this year's acquisitions, the team looks playoff- bound once again. Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple. Once a Knick, always a Knick."

Even in recent months Stoudemire spoke longingly of those days in New York, wondering aloud why it didn't work. Stoudemire deserves some special place in Knicks' lore, as the star who willingly signed on to start what the Knicks believed, Stoudemire believed and fans desperately wanted to believe was the start of a new golden era.

Sure there were questions, like why the team he'd spent his entire career with, the Suns, had gotten to the West finals two months earlier and now would not offer him more than a three-year deal with his uninsurable knees. The Knicks, needing a star to sign after being spurned by LeBron James, were willing to ante up the five-year, $100 million deal to bring the 27-year-old to Madison Square Garden.

And it seemed like a reasonable risk when he played 78 games that first season and led the Knicks to the playoffs. But warming up for a playoff game against Boston, he attempted a dunk in the layup line and strained a muscle in his back, thus ruining the Knicks' chances. Anthony came to New York to join him, forcing his way in a trade deadline deal that broke up whatever the Knicks had building, and then Tyson Chandler signed on and the Knicks had a frontline that seemed the envy of any team. …

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