No one will ever mistake Amare Stoudemire for George Washington.
Sunday was July 4th, though, which made it hard not to think about the forward in relation to the famed general and the activities that led to victory against long odds during the American Revolution.
When Washington crossed the Delaware, he did more than simply rout the Hessian army in Trenton. Up until that point, victory seemed like an impossible outcome. The Americans were outmanned, outgunned and couldn't stop thinking of all the things they didn't have. When they took Trenton, though, it served as a way to change the story and get his soldiers, future countrymen and, most importantly, his opponents thinking that the Americans could actually prevail when all was said and done.
The Knicks faced similar difficulties at the start of free agency. The shortcomings of their roster were well-known, they were mocked for even thinking about landing players who would change their fortunes and the reports from the front -- a.k.a. the Cleveland meeting with LeBron James -- were that the troops were being routed by the buzzier and better prepared offers from other cities. Then, as the holiday weekend began, word came that Amare Stoudemire was in New York and agreeing in principle to a $100 million, five-year contract with the Knicks.
Since then you've had Stoudemire making bold statements about Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker joining him at the Garden. You've had a second meeting with the LeBron team to discuss the potential Stoudemire deal, which they'd still drop if James said he wanted to sign in New York with a different forward, and you imagine there's been, at the very least, a conversation with Dwyane Wade's people about the same topic.
And just like that, they've changed the entire narrative. They can win this thing because the landscape suddenly looks a lot different. Bosh's decision has been at the center of discussions about where James and Wade are going to sign because neither man wants to be without a running mate in the front court. Let's say Bosh and Wade go to Miami -- doesn't James have to think differently about New York because of Stoudemire? The team has proven it will spend to get good players, they've got more cap flexibility than the Bulls or Cavs and their roster makeup suddenly looks like a good mix of inside muscle, athleticism and outside gunners.
Maybe that doesn't mean James shows up, but Stoudemire as the foundation for the rest of the offseason means that there are lots of options about where to go next. There's Eddy Curry's contract, a chance to do a sign-and-trade with David Lee and oodles of other cap space to use to build a team that will almost certainly be better than anything we've seen in some time.
That would make engaging Stoudemire the moment that the Knicks crossed the Delaware -- which probably means Donnie Walsh should be the guy compared to Washington. He took some big risks over the last two seasons by trading away limited success in the short-term for the chance at making a splash this summer. If it backfired, the Knicks would be healthier financially but just as sick on the court which amounts to the same old, same old at the end of the day. Walsh took those risks and staked his reputation on a bold play.
The war is far from over but, for the first time, there's real reason to believe the Knicks can win this thing.