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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / June 18.
  • Amar’e Finally Speaks….Return Coming Soon

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    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    NEW YORK — Viewed as one of the NBA’s media-friendly superstars, Amar’e Stoudemire had not addressed reporters since March 24 when he went down with a bulging disk in his lower back.

    He has missed 12 games since, including Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden, and details of the injury, the rehabilitation process and a potential return date have been scarce. That is, they had been scarce until Tuesday night.

    After New York Knicks interim head coach Mike Woodson finished telling the assembled media during his pregame availability on Tuesday that Stoudemire is “feeling good, won’t play tonight, speculation is probably Friday,” the 6-foot-10, 10th year power forward unexpectedly showed up in the Knicks’ locker room 50 minutes before game time.

    With the media, as well as the Knicks public relations staff, swarming around his locker, Stoudemire joked with the writers, who mostly kept the questions to his new cornrows, which he says he is sporting for the first time since he was 17 years old at Cypress Creek High School in Orlando.

    “I look young, right?” a clean-shaven Stoudemire joked. “You know I’m always up to something. It is kind of a new look, I figured the beard would be a little but much with the cornrows. My hair grows faster when it’s in a braid or cornrows.”

    Just when the two-minute session with reporters looked like it would end with talk of hairstyles and facial hair, the comments made by Woodson about his ailing star feeling good and the possibility of Friday were brought to Stoudemire’s attention.

    Of course, Stoudemire wasn’t going to just blurt out the plan, but what ensued was the first true sign from the man himself that yes, a return is coming and it’s very likely coming in the next few days.

    “Is that right? Hmm, sounds pretty good, we’ll see,” Stoudemire said when asked about Woodson’s comments regarding Friday, as he lowered his head to avoid eye contact while trying to keep himself from smiling too wide. “I’ll be back soon, definitely have to get some games under my belt before the playoffs, so there’s a little hint.”

    As Woodson alluded to, there was rampant speculation during the day on Tuesday that Stoudemire and the medical staff were eyeing a return to action on Friday at the Cleveland Cavaliers with Sunday at the Atlanta Hawks seeming like a worst case scenario at this point.

    Should Stoudemire return Friday, it would give him four regular season games to get comfortable with an offense that has flourished in his absence with Carmelo Anthony virtually scoring at will while playing power forward.

    Some have said it might be a good idea to let Stoudemire come off the bench, at least at first, as to not disrupt the offensive flow that has helped the Knicks to the cusp of a second straight playoff appearance.

    Woodson, who indicated that Stoudemire and Anthony have not meshed well in their time together so far, unequivocally and absolutely said on Tuesday that when Stoudemire is indeed ready to play, he will start at power forward and the notion of Stoudemire coming off the bench will not be entertained.

    “Amar’e is gonna start and we’re gonna make it work,” Woodson said. “We’re gonna make it happen.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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