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Following a disheartening Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat, Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire lost his cool and punched a fire extinguisher that was encased in glass. He cut his left hand and required stitches, and left American Airlines Arena with his arm in a sling. His status for the remainder of the series is in doubt. Teammate Tyson Chandler expects him to miss Game 3, which is Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
It seems Amar'e Stoudemire can hit the glass after all.
Unfortunately, he chose to wait until the 104-94 Game Two loss to the Heat was in the books before showing that side of himself to a fire extinguisher case in an arena hallway. You're supposed to break that glass in case of emergency, a situation the Knicks certainly find themselves in at this point in the playoffs, but you're not supposed to use one of your hands.
Stoudemire, pulling a page from A.J. Burnett's script, did just that and left the arena with his hand stitched and bandaged. No one from the Knicks would offer any specifics about the injury, another embarrassing moment for the franchise, but it is hard to imagine that Stoudemire is going to be on the court for Game Three at Madison Square Garden.
It's almost as hard to think that his absence makes it all that much less likely that the Knicks will win the game. Stoudemire played a better offensive game on Monday night, but he more than gave back his 18 points with his refusal to play defense or rebound with anything resembling the kind of effort he used to put his hand through a pane of glass.
That's what makes Stoudemire's decision to take out his frustrations that way so, well, frustrating. He displayed so little passion on the court that his little punching act seems like nothing so much as a "look at me" moment designed in an attempt to make everyone know how much you care about the game.
That's sad, because the one thing you never doubted before about Stoudemire is that he cared. He was never a great defender or rebounder, but at least there was some effort in the past.
No effort exists on that front now and it's not enough to say that Stoudemire is frustrated by his role on offense as a way to explain his total inability to positively impact the Knicks. While it would be nice to see the Knicks offense working well enough to get both Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony all the shots they'd like, the truth remains that the Knicks have won games this season by playing much better defense than they play whenever Stoudemire is on the court.
You have to do more than one thing to win games and Stoudemire can't/won't buy into that half of the philosophy any more than Anthony can't/won't buy into sharing the ball with him more regularly. Everything has gone so wrong for Stoudemire so quickly, starting with his back injury in Boston a year ago that was also caused by a bit of selfishness.
It's hard not to feel some sympathy for Stoudemire because of all that's happened to him this year. He's lost the coach who helped him become a star, he's lost his role as the leading man in the franchise, he lost his older brother and he seems to have lost his confidence on the court.
This incident, following as it does in the footsteps of hated players like Burnett and Kevin Brown, seems certain to erode the goodwill he had built up with the fans as well even after his apology on Monday night. You wouldn't wish all of these things on your worst enemy, but Stoudemire's going to have to battle back from it all the same.
This means it is going to be an interesting offseason for Stoudemire. He's not going anywhere thanks to his contract and myriad health issues so he's going to have to find a way to reinvent himself into a player who can thrive in the current situation.
Mike Woodson, or whoever the next coach winds up being, will have to help create a context for success -- sixth man, perhaps? -- but it is ultimately going to come down to Stoudemire. If he puts the same effort into himself that he put into punching an inanimate object, there's still a chance things will work out.
If not, this will be the sad moment when that ebullient press conference upon his arrival becomes just another part of the painful recent history of the Knicks.