- Last Updated: 9:29 AM, May 5, 2012
- Posted: 12:53 AM, May 5, 2012
Amar’e Stoudemire is recruiting you. He is working you. He is hustling you. Stoudemire is as aware as any athlete we’ve had around here, he enjoys the almost universal praise he’s received from the moment he signed his name to the bottom of his Knicks contract. Mostly, he earned the praise. Mostly, he was a worthy recipient of the cheers of Knicks fans starving for a savior.
So you better believe he understands where he sits with so many of you now. He knows the disdain with which his name has been thrown around, has probably seen a few of the Internet creations — some of which, you have to admit, are hysterical — that have lampooned his first-round TKO at the hands of an American Airlines Arena fire extinguisher.
He knows there’s anger out there.
And so this is his pitch to win you back: to defy medical odds and play — or, at the least, to make it seem as if he might play — when the Knicks-Heat series resumes — and likely concludes — tomorrow at Madison Square Garden.
“With this type of injury, playing [tomorrow] would be out of the question for most people,” Stoudemire said yesterday, after spending a couple of hours running drills while the rest of the Knicks were practicing. “I feel I’m blessed. I heal fast. I persevere through a lot of injuries.”
Well, that’s one way to spin it.
It’s the wrong way, of course.
Stoudemire was nice enough a few hours later to tweet a photograph of his hand, and it wasn’t an image for the queasy. By my count there were 12 stitches forming an arc closing the wound, and if you weren’t sure it was actually a human hand you might have looked for Bud Selig’s signature because it looked like it could have been something hit into the Citi Field stands during batting practice yesterday.
There’s little question this would be a two-week injury, minimum, during the regular season, even if Stoudemire’s healing powers included a dip in the waters of Lourdes. But the Knicks barely have two days left in the season let alone two weeks. So this is Stoudemire trying to channel Willis Reed, with the notable exception that Reed pushed himself to play with the Knicks one victory shy of a championship, not 16.
Also, Walt Frazier was standing next to Bradley, DeBusschere and Barnett in the starting lineup that night 41 years and 362 days ago, not sitting next to Mike Breen and Spiro Dedes. All due respect to Clyde, but he was more useful to the Knicks’ hopes 41 years and 362 days ago.
“It’s definitely not 100 percent,” Stoudemire said. “I’m still pretty sore at times. I’m a team player. We have an opportunity where we have to try to get a win.”
That sounds great. And Stoudemire, always a physical marvel, looked fine as he ran full court alongside Jeremy Lin and Knicks assistant Kenny Atkinson yesterday. But this is a guy who looked completely overmatched in Games 1 and 2 with two functioning hands; to take on that team, that front line, one-handed? Does he really think that’s going to help the team or, more to the point, his fractured relationship with New York City?
You know what would be more helpful to that end? Someone with smarts enough to write a statement for Stoudemire that said something along the lines of: “I know people are frustrated with me, and I’m frustrated with myself. I needed to be smarter than this, and I’m paying a high price now but I’ve learned from it. And when I’m healthy, I’ll prove that and I’ll earn back your trust.”
Instead, for a second straight practice, Stoudemire tried to spin this as some kind of ill-fated accident where nobody — least of all himself — deserved blame.
“I feel great that I’m back, being able to get back on the basketball court and still run and play and use my hand, off an incident that wasn’t on purpose, just a reaction out of losing a game.”
He’s wrong. Hitting the glass was very much on purpose; getting cut was the accident. His fault. HIS fault. No amount of wishing and wanting will get Stoudemire’s hand healthy faster; accountability could restore his reputation in a timely manner. That’s where he should be. Because if he plays as you would imagine a one-handed man would against the Miami Heat?
That won’t improve anyone’s mood. You can count on that.Follow @NYPostsports