By John Schmeelk
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“Without a doubt. I’m on pace to return back to dominance,” Amar’e Stoudemire recently told reporters.
At first glance this is a good outlook for Amar’e Stoudemire, and it may just be his way of expressing that he would soon be healthy enough to have the athletic ability to dominate. That would be a good thing for the Knicks. It would not be a good thing for Stoudemire to come back and once again try to dominate Knicks games.
This is Carmelo Anthony’s team now, and he is the dominant figure offensively. Tyson Chandler is one of the best pick and roll finishers in the league. He is the dominant player around the hoop. As we spoke about the other day that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for Amar’e Stoudemire. It’s just that his days of being the Knicks dominant offensive player for games at a time are over.
For the 15 minutes or so Stoudemire is on the floor while Anthony and Chandler are on the bench he can once again be the number one option on the floor. For the Knicks second team, he can be dominant, and that will make the team better, which should be the only thing Stoudemire should be worrying about after coming back from injury. It’s about fitting in, not about dominating.
Hopefully Stoudemire realizes he is not returning to a struggling team that has sorely missed him. It’s quite the opposite, as the Knicks have played their best basketball in a decade with him out of the lineup. Fair or not, his only job now is to fit into what the Knicks are doing now, and try to make them even better. He gave the cliché that he would do “whatever it takes to win” the other day, but what if that means not being a dominant player? What if it means putting more of an effort into defense and rebounding than we have ever seen from him in his career? Is he even capable of doing those things?
Over his career with the Knicks, Stoudemire has never been anything but an ideal teammate who has done whatever the team has needed from him. Without his arrival two years ago the Knicks would never have gotten to where they are today. If he does manage to make the needed adjustments he will go down in Knicks lore as one of the most selfless players in Knicks history. He would be the guy that brought the franchise back and just two years later was willing to step out of the spotlight for the betterment of the team.
Personally, I think he’ll try his best. I’m just not sure he has the instincts or the lateral quickness to become a great defender as much as he might try. That doesn’t mean he can’t get better in his defensive rotations and simply try harder on that end of the floor. The scariest thing about Stoudemire’s return is his potential negative effect on the Knicks defense, where he has always been a huge liability. Historically any lineup with him and Carmelo Anthony has been a mess defensively. Putting him in the front court with Steve Novak could be a Mayan-apocalypse esque disaster.
Stoudemire needs to be the bigger man and do the right thing. I think he will to the best of his ability. That’s the type of teammate he has been. If that happens, and Stoudemire dominates with the second unit and improves on defense, the Knicks will compete for a spot in the NBA Finals. Besides a potential major injury, nothing will decide the Knicks fate more than this. We’ll find out soon enough.
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I won’t be able to post again until after the holidays, so everyone have a Merry Christmas and enjoy some Knicks basketball!
Knicks fans — Do you expect Stoudemire to swallow his pride and do his best to fit in? Let us hear your thoughts…