I was all set to have a positive Game 2 recap for you guys today. YOUR New York Knicks didn’t back down from the now even more heavily favored Miami Heat, but ultimately fell short in a 10-point loss. It seemed as if Miami was in semi- to full control almost the whole night, but the Bockers put together a spirited effort, legitimately challenging what many have forgotten to be the NBA’s best team.
The Knicks lost their starting point guard and replaced him with two declining veterans who probably played their best ball in blue and orange to date. It lost its best individual defensive player and alllllmost made up for his absence with collective effort and hustle. And it fought through the weeds of a hostile environment, not from the fair weather attendees, but because of whistles that were still blown to the advantage of the home team.
It’s too easy to hop on the bash train for the now infamous post-game extracurricular activities in which “Standing Tall and Talented” participated. Interestingly, it’s also forgivable to do so, barking and admonishing Stoudemire for Kevin Brown-ing his way through a glass container that housed a fire extinguisher. But I’m not going to do that today.
Signed to a maximum salary contract in the summer of 2010, Stoudemire boldly declared that he would help restore a downtrodden team back to heights that the city deserved and that the league so desperately needed. Before he ever laced ’em up, he yelled through the walls of his introductory press conference, “The Knicks are back!”
Leading a squad bereft of the above-average talent a contender requires to even have a puncher’s chance, Stoudemire averaged 25 points and 8 rebounds per game, shooting sweet percentages of 50 from the field and 80 from the stripe. He set New York’s all-time record for consecutive 30-point games in a season. He started the All-Star game, the first Knick to do so since Patrick Ewing. By season’s end, he had a dark horse MVP shot, the candidacy of which was undoubtedly propelled by nightly serenades from the Garden faithful.
Later that season, the Knicks gutted their roster to acquire Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets. The throne that sat atop the mecca of basketball suddenly had a challenger. Anthony was a special talent that put ball in net and butts in seats with relative ease. He dripped a trail of swagger in his footsteps. But Amar’e came first, and he was still treated that way. Amidst all the hubbub of Melo’s grand entrance in a home game against the Milwaukee Bucks, it was Stoudemire who retained his place as the last player announced during team introductions. We weren’t about to forget that it was Amar’e who took the plunge when The Straight Shot did his absolute best to blackball the team as a worthy free agent destination. As fans, we appreciated Stoudemire’s admirable courtesy, as he willingly invited the chance to descend from “1” to “1A.”
The fact that the 2nd-half version of the 2010-11 Knicks were a work in progress was blatantly obvious, with two superstars acknowledging that a full offseason was necessary to gel into a cohesive tandem. But the city’s exuberance for the team’s restored relevance was just as apparent, as New York squared off against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. The Celtics, however, were already the thing that Knicks knew they weren’t yet: a team. Boston dispatched of S… Read more...