One Last Moment to Celebrate Amar'e Stoudemire

Stoudemire's season gets recognition it deserves.

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Sep 16, 2011  |  Updated 4:20 PM EDT
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One Last Moment to Celebrate Amar'e Stoudemire

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A pat on the back for a job very well done.

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For just a moment, forget the last four games of the Knicks season.

Forget also the way the team struggled to find its way after the trade for Carmelo Anthony and forget the fact that they play defense with all the intensity of a security guard getting paid minimum wage. Forget, in other words, all the negatives about the 2010-11 Knicks season and just think about Amar'e Stoudemire.

Think about the way he blew into New York last summer full of big talk about restoring pride and excitement to Madison Square Garden. And then think about the way he backed up every single word by putting the team on his back night after night.

It would also be nice to think about the way he did it. Everyone knew Stoudemire was a talented player, but he showed multitudes when it came to leadership on and off the court.

Those efforts were rewarded Thursday when the NBA announced that Stoudemire was voted onto the All-NBA second team alongside Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and others. It is the first time a member of the Knicks was named to one of the NBA's postseason teams since Patrick Ewing made the second team in 1996-97.

That's a very long time to wait for a superlative player, making it all the more remarkable to watch the way Stoudemire walked through the door and took over the town. He's sharing the stage with Anthony (who fell 14 votes shy of the third team) now, of course, but there's no doubting who was the guy that brought Knicks basketball back to relevance.

He's now gotten his due for leading the team to take that gigantic leap so that means it is officially time to turn the page from last season. That bad ending doesn't make that accomplishment any less significant but it does serve as a reminder of how much work remains to be done to make the next step in the evolutionary process.

Stoudemire will be a big piece of that, obviously. His biggest task now is figuring out a way to form a combination with Anthony that brings out the best in both men rather than the alternating superstar show we watched over the last quarter of the season.

If he can do that, he might lose some votes for postseason laurels to his teammate but he will almost certainly be on a team that wins more games and goes deeper into the playoffs. These are sacrifices worth making because anything else will simply be a slightly sweeter flavor of failure.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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