‘Hart On Hoops’
By Sean Hartnett
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Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony sat emotionless on the Knicks’ bench after they were pulled for the entire fourth quarter during Sunday’s 106-94 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni sent a clear message to his two of main stars who responded by sulking, Stephon Marbury style, with their heads covered underneath towels in a world of their own.
If D’Antoni’s actions weren’t enough, his words spoke volumes as he heaped praise upon the Knicks’ backup brigade. Indeed, they were playing with more heart than the two benched superstars.
Anthony partially got the message on Monday night. While his overall performance didn’t exude effort, he was keyed into the game even if his shots didn’t fall. At least Anthony demanded the ball. Stoudemire meanwhile, looked like a lost passenger going through the motions against the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls.
The biggest and most accurate criticism of Amar’e is that he isn’t passionate. At 6’11 and a rock-hard 260 pounds, Stoudemire is an absolute specimen of a basketball player. There’s no reason why he should get completely dominated on the glass and a grab a mere total of 3 rebounds.
No one bought what Stoudemire told reporters after the Knicks got out-worked, out-rebounded, out-thought and out-hustled by the Bulls on Monday night.
“We worked pretty hard for the most part. We fought. It’s one of those games where it’s a tough battle,” Stoudemire explained.
Did anyone buy that statement? When did Amar’e fight or battle?
Stoudemire continued, “We’ve got to find a way to win. We keep saying it but really, we really gotta find a way. We’ve got to do a better job of preparing ourselves before every game and we got to get after it.”
At quick glance, the Knicks lost narrowly 104-99 but that doesn’t accurately paint the disparity between the two teams. The Bulls out-rebounding New York 56-to-38 does a much better job of illustrating the Knicks’ absence of heart. Also, keep in mind that the Bulls were without injured trio Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton and C.J. Watson.
“The joking around has to stop at some point. We’ve got to take this game very serious, especially at a time when now when we’re in the eight seed and not playing well. The time is now,” Stoudemire declared.
Don’t tell us Amar’e. Go out and do it. Challenge yourself and your teammates to do what it takes to snap this six-game losing streak.
You’re introduced over the Madison Square Garden loudspeaker as the Knicks’ co-captain. Show us that you’re a leader on Wednesday by putting forth a noticeable effort against the Blazers.
Knicks fans, will Stoudemire finally show up on Wednesday? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to: @HartnettWFAN.