Let's hope the Knicks remember their organizational history, because no one wants to repeat it.
The last time the Knicks were three games over .500, Stephon Marbury marked the occasion by calling himself the best point guard in the NBA. Predictably, they lost the next game, the very first of 2005, when Jason Kidd proved Marbury wrong and slipped deeper into the Isiah-era despair.
One of the biggest reasons why the Knicks slipped so far in such a hurry was the fact that the egomaniac at the point couldn't make his teammates any better.
Sunday's 116-99 smackdown of the Raptors restored the Knicks to the relative glory of three games on the happy side of par and, once again, they have a star player to thank for their good fortune. Amar'e Stoudemire has been dominant over the run of nine wins in the last 10 games, scoring over 30 points in each of the last four games and controlling fourth quarters by scoring in the paint and drawing fouls.
The funny thing is that Stoudemire, unlike Marbury, actually seems to make his teammates better. Shawne Williams is the biggest recent example. In this weekend's wins over the Raptors and Hornets, Williams nailed seven-of-eight three pointers because teams have to collapse on Stoudemire down low.
There are plenty of other people playing well. Raymond Felton made a pretty good argument for not trading for Chris Paul against the Hornets, Landry Fields is the feel-good story that keeps on giving and Wilson Chandler has finally found his niche after years of tantalizing with his athletic ability. But it keeps coming back to Stoudemire because he's given the Knicks a superstar, the one thing they were missing through the entire dark era.
Marbury, despite his protestations to the contrary, was never one because he never took over games the way that Stoudemire has done over the course of this hot streak. The Knicks have won seven straight road games, something that simply doesn't happen without a player who can impose his will on referees conditioned to favor the home side down the stretch.
He gives confidence to other players who know that they always have someone to bail them out, which leads to more aggression on offense and more attempts to make plays on defense. We've seen players in other jerseys do that over the years, but it's been so long since someone in Knicks duds has done it that we'd frankly forgotten it was even possible.
Stoudemire said the Knicks were back this summer. He's doing everything in his power to make that statement come true right now. Just don't go saying you're the best forward in the NBA.