Amar’e Stoudemire Has Had a Bigger Free Agent Impact Than LeBron James

December 6, 2010 – 10:15 am by Chris Fedor

The Knicks went into the offseason with a ton of cap space looking to make a huge splash to bring the team back to relevance in the NBA. Fans in New York wanted LeBron James, or Chris Bosh, or even Dwyane Wade. They would’ve probably settled for Joe Johnson. Instead, they got Amar’e Stoudemire, which has turned out to be the best move of the offseason. Amar’e Stoudemire has lived up to every penny of his 100 million dollar contract so far this year and while it’s still early in the season, he has the Knicks back to relevancy in the NBA.

After getting off to a slow 3-8 start, the Knicks are now 9-1 over their last ten games, 12-9 on the season, and they have one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Amar’e Stoudemire is the biggest reason for that. Stoudemire is averaging nearly 25 points per game, he is grabbing nine rebounds per game, and is averaging about two blocks per game as well. Amar’e Stoudemire was always one of the best players in the Western Conference when healthy and now he is proving that he doesn’t need Steve Nash dishing the ball to him to have success. The Knicks are becoming relevant once again and it turns out they didn’t need LeBron James for that to happen. They just needed a superstar. Now they have one.

Amar’e Stoudemire joined WFAN in New York with Boomer and Carton to talk about what the biggest difference is between playing with Phoenix and playing with New York, how far away he thinks the Knicks are from being a potential playoff team, how nice it is to see Madison Square Garden rocking again, and what the expectations are for the team this year.

On the difference between Phoenix and New York:

“Well the difference in Phoenix is that we were always championship contenders and fighting for a championship every year. This year is more of a greater challenge with trying to make the playoffs and keep a winning record. Also just trying to be able to help lead. I think we have the third or fourth youngest team in the NBA. So you make your mistakes in the basketball game and have to make sure you get over the hump.”

On where New York is compared with other playoff teams:

“We’re still improving. We don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves. We still have to get better on the defensive mindset, but if we can play together and make sure we understand our strategy on the defensive end, execute those, then we have a great chance to beat those guys. Those teams are playing great basketball but we’re definitely trying to compete.”

On the crowds now at Madison Square Garden:

“Oh man, I mean last game it was incredible. We had a standing ovation at the end of the game which was the first time that I heard the Garden that loud. That place can get out of control. Playing here with the opposing team was always fun, but when you’re playing for the Knicks and winning, it’s that much better.”

On what he expects the rest of the season:

“I know one thing, as the season goes on, we’re definitely going to continue to improve. In the first month we’re showing that we’re a team to be reckoned with. If we continue to play as well as we have and keep improving, we’re going to be a pretty good team this year.”

Listen to Amar’e Stoudemire on WFAN in New York here

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