Stoudemire Promises 'Great Run' By Knicks in Playoffs | Zagsblog
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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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Monday / April 22.
  • Stoudemire Promises ‘Great Run’ By Knicks in Playoffs

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    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Because he was the first member of the Knicks’ Big Three to come aboard in the Summer of 2010, because he is arguably the biggest free agent acquisition in the history of the franchise and because he is partially charged with the responsibility of bringing the team back to prominence after a decade of darkness, Amar’e Stoudemire is under considerable pressure.

    The simple task of performing and performing well on the NBA’s biggest stage and under the brightest lights is enough for most players, but this has not been a typical season for anyone in the league thanks to the truncated 66-game regular season. The rarity of this season applies especially to Stoudemire.

    “It was a crazy year man. All this is going to go down as an asterisk beside this year,” Stoudemire said earlier this week before it was determined that the Knicks would meet the Miami Heat in a first-round series beginning Saturday in Miami. “It was a rollercoaster year. Lockout, a lot of injuries across the NBA, so many games, but the standout of this year has been Linsanity. Jeremy Lin was insane, he was explosive and took on New York by himself. That was the most exciting part of the year.”

    Stoudemire had a front row seat when Linsanity struck Madison Square Garden for the first time on Feb. 4. Early on the morning of Feb. 6, his older brother, Hazell, died in a car crash in Florida. Suddenly, basketball wasn’t the only thing to worry about as he missed four games while tending to family matters in Florida, not returning until Feb. 14 at Toronto.

    Despite that life-altering tragedy and the fact he missed four games as a result, basketball and his teammates brought comfort to his family during that trying time, which Stoudemire labeled as “still pretty tender right now.”

    “The funny thing is, when I was down in Florida after my brother’s death, we would watch Knicks games,” Stoudemire said. “That’s when Linsanity hit so we still had some fun during that time by watching Jeremy erupt.

    “I get a lot of joy from it (basketball) now because it’s been an up and down year for me as far as the death of my brother. Then also, the injury to the back. So many different ups and downs this season, it’s been tough, but the great part about it now is I finally feel great and my family is now starting to get over my brother’s death kind of. I have my teammates and they’ve been there for me.”

    Looking at his brother’s death, it makes the fact Stoudemire missed 13 games at a crucial stretch of the season due to a bulging disk in his lower back seem small by comparison. He was hampered with a back problem during last year’s first round playoff sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics as well and as history has shown, big men with balky backs sometimes don’t find their way all the way.

    Be that as it may, Stoudemire is here and healthy enough to join Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler in giving the Knicks at least a puncher’s chance when they open their playoff run on Saturday afternoon at the defending Eastern Conference-champion Miami Heat.

    Concerns about Stoudemire’s back and stamina after missing 13 games should be curbed and optimism should be on the rise at this point. After 22 points and 12 rebounds on Sunday at Atlanta, he appeared to take a step back on Tuesday against the against the Clippers, scoring just 10 points while hauling in seven rebounds while never really looking totally comfortable.

    His effort Thursday in Charlotte should appease everyone on the eve of the playoffs after he went for 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting in just 24 minutes of action. He looked healthy, athletic and in control.

    Stoudemire’s production matters, especially beginning this weekend, but on a more personal level, the fact that the game itself continues to bring him pleasure in what has been a tumultuous few months bodes well for everyone involved.

    “Basketball is totally a release. When I step on the court or get around my teammates, I forget about anything else going on,” Stoudemire said. “My teammates are always great to be around. That brings a sense of security, a sense of joy. Now were going to the postseason, it’s going to be a great, great run.”

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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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