The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs in the past three seasons. These seasons have had various differing storylines including the worst season in franchise history and Phil Jackson being hired as team president and drafting Kristaps Porzingis.
Yet, there was a time when things were much worse for this franchise.
It had been six season since the Knicks had made the playoffs, during which many ill-advised trades of quality players and draft picks occurred under the watchful eye of Isiah Thomas. The Knicks constantly had a losing record and the fan-base was in open revolt against management.
It seemed like nothing could go right, and then Amar’e Stoudemire came to New York.
Stoudemire was the first legitimate star player to decide to come to New York in years, and the fans loved him for it. His introductory press conference alone made fans greet him with adoration as he promised to make the Knicks champions once again.
Along with a young players Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, and Raymond Felton, the Knicks looked pretty good—especially Stoudemire.
Stoudemire played in 78 games that season, averaging 25.3 points per game. He was an MVP candidate and he led the Knicks to the playoffs. Of course, in the middle of that season, the Knicks managed to trade most of their young players for Carmelo Anthony.
Though the two were said to be good friends, Anthony and Stoudemire never really jelled on the court. The Knicks were swept and thus eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
What followed in the next few years was hard to see.
Stoudemire seemingly couldn’t stay healthy, only playing in 47 games the next season—and it got worse from there. Constant injuries plagued the big man, and he never looked the same as he once did, eventually leading to him being bought out halfway through the 2014-15 season.
On Tuesday, July 26, Stoudemire retired as a Knick after trying and failing to re-sign with the first team he ever played for: the Suns.
In a recent article by Paul Coro of azcentral sports, Stoudemire was quoted as saying:
"“The last two years, we made phone calls to Phoenix but I wasn’t getting any positive response, That would’ve been the perfect way to go out. I didn’t want to beg Phoenix. My heart was in two places – Phoenix and New York. I just went where I was wanted.”"
New York wanted Stoudemire and the buzz that offseason was incredible. In fact, it’s a lot like the buzz there is now.
The similarities between the two are eerie to think about.
A star player who most think is over the hill and injury-plagued has come to the Knicks.
The recently acquired Derrick Rose fits that to a T, and frankly, he’s on another level of talent. Rose won the MVP award the very year that Stoudemire was in contention.
After the star player signed, the Knicks became a desirable free agent destination.
Instead of getting Tyson Chandler, though, the Knicks have retooled with Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings.
The star player is paired with a young up-and-coming player.
Instead of Danilo Gallinari, the Knicks have Kristaps Porzingis, who has a higher ceiling than Gallinari, and can play off his new teammates better than the 2010-11 Knicks did.
A former Phoenix Suns head coach with a fast-paced Western Conference offense is brought in to put it all together.
To be fair, Mike D’Antoni had to suffer through two losing season before seeing all the clutter washed away. It was only then that he was able to coach a team worthy of playing in New York. Jeff Hornacek comes in fresh and with a talented team already in place for him
A new president is brought in to clean out the old regime’s mess and fix the franchise.
In 2008, the Knicks brought in Donnie Walsh, who proceeded to try to right the ship. In 2014, Phil Jackson was hired by the Knicks to do the very same thing.
The key difference between 2010 and 2016, though, is the fact that Carmelo Anthony is already here as the established face of the franchise. Having that stability is a huge asset, and if ‘Melo can continue what he started last year, then the Knicks will be tough to beat
It all started with Amar’e Stoudemire, though. He was the one who put a face to a franchise mired in obscurity since losing Patrick Ewing.
He was the one who said New York was the place to come to. Through all the injuries, the New York fans were the ones who stuck by him, even when reminded that he took a max deal to come here.
He was the one who started it all, and for that, Knick fans should be forever grateful.
So New York, embrace Amar’e Stoudemire retiring with the franchise in the same way he was welcomed in: Standing Tall And Talented.