Two stories opened the eyes of New York Knicks‘ nation today. The first and most important was that Amar’e Stoudemire recognized it was better to rest before offseason training camp starts, instead of honing his skills at the Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon big man camp. The second story was that their superstar, Carmelo Anthony realized that his championship window with his team as currently constituted might be closed.
At a camp in Queens, Anthony obviously alarmed by the Brooklyn Nets‘ triumphant summer, bellowed to the New York media that his championship window with the Knicks may be kaput. It’s a reality that starts with the main culprit, Stoudemire.
Anthony came here to join forces with the athletic power forward to form a superstar tandem that would rival the Heat’s. That tandem has far from lived up to its billing through no fault of Anthony. The Knicks’ main gun received the only other MVP in a race dominated by LeBron James while leading the Knicks to their first Atlantic division crown since Patrick Ewing’s knee braces were sweating.
Stoudemire, as good as he has been with the press, has become the albatross contract that consistently holds the Knicks back. After initially playing at an MVP runner-up level, injuries have beset the now cumbersome forward. He has been a shell of himself after the first year and his uninsured max contract makes him the most difficult to trade assets in sports.
So Melo is forced to hope. He can hope that Stoudemire can make it through a whole year. He can hope that he rediscovers that All-Star form that garnered him this giant contract. He can hope that a healthy Stoudemire can push him into a conference finals. Too bad “hope” is not a word with which Knicks fans are all that familiar.