Passing Judgment – Amar’e is Sorry

It was less than a month ago that I wrote a previous edition of Passing Judgment about Amar’e Stoudemire and the fact the Knicks would be better off without him.  Sure enough, he returned from injury and played fairly well down the stretch as the Knicks made their final drive towards the playoffs.  When the dust settled and the Knicks claimed the #7 seed and a matchup with the Miami Heat, most people never really gave the Knicks much of a chance to win.  This is because Miami is just too talented on both sides of the ball, and the Knicks just cannot compete with the Heat’s strength, speed and star power.

That being said, if the Knicks had any chance of ending one of the longest playoff losing streaks in NBA history, then they needed their star players to step up and play like stars.  This included Stoudemire who needed to elevate his game defensively and provide an offensive alternative to Carmelo Anthony.  Unfortunately, that has not worked out so well after two games where the Knicks find themselves down 2-0 as they head back home to Madison Square Garden.

As you probably know by now, after Game 2 was over, Stoudemire took out his frustrations on an innocent glass casing around a fire extinguisher.  He punched the casing so hard that glass shattered and copious amounts of blood was shed.  Initial thoughts were that Stoudemire could have punctured an artery, but it was merely a laceration on the inside of his palm on the side of his left hand closest to his pinkie.  According to the Knicks, Stoudemire saw a hand specialist at the Hospital of Special Surgery on Tuesday where a surgeon repaired a small muscle in his hand.  It is not believed that he sustained any ligament or tendon damage, but he did require an unknown amount of stitches. 

This incident is likely one of the dumbest and most selfish things an athlete has done in the history of sports.  It is not uncommon for athletes to take out their aggression or frustration on inanimate objects (keep Paul O’Neill away from water coolers).  Nor is Stoudemire the first player to ever sustain an injury doing something like this.  But when you have a professional basketball player making $20,000,000 a year on the New York Knicks and in the midst of trying to rejuvenate the storied franchise, it gets a lot more attention and scrutiny than other similar incidents. 

The fact remains that Stoudemire gets paid handsomely to go to work every day and his teammates and coaches rely on him being there.  Of course sometimes there are valid reasons why athletes miss games, such as when Stoudemire took some time off to mourn the loss of his brother who was killed in an accident earlier this season.  No one had any issues with that – there are some things much more important than a game.  Aside from that, this is Stoudemire’s second consecutive post-season where he has inflicted an injury on himself.  Last year during the Knicks first round matchup against the Boston Celtics, Stoudemire injured his back doing slam dunks during warm-ups before Game 2.  Now with his latest antics, he will once again not be on the floor when his team needs him.  

I am sure Stoudemire regrets what he did and would do things differently if he had a DeLorean that could get up to 88 miles per hour.  According to his Twitter account, Stoudemire is “mad at himself” and apologized to the team and the fans because he was “not proud of his actions.”  No doubt that he means that sincerely.  But it doesn’t do the Knicks a lick of good to hear him be remorseful now because the fact is that the Knicks will have one less body on the floor to defend against the great trifecta of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  The Knicks are already shorthanded with phenom Jeremy Lin still recovering from knee surgery, Tyson Chandler has been battling the flu, and rookie defensive sensation Iman Shumpert suffered a serious knee injury during Game 1 that will require surgery.

Whether Stoudemire plays or not again in the first round is probably meaningless because the Heat will inevitably win the series no matter what.  But it doesn’t change the fact that this was an extremely selfish and stupid action that needs to be dealt with accordingly.  Somehow the Knicks must be creative in the off-season and try to trade Stoudemire.  Whether that means eating some of the contract or taking back multiple bad contracts, it is something the Knicks have to do.  Knicks fans should all appreciate the fact that Amar’e came to New York eagerly during the summer of 2010 and he single-handedly made the Knicks relevant again.  But, this latest incident has sealed Amar’e fate in my estimation as an albatross on the court, in the locker room, and on the dotted line in his contract. 

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