When Amar’e Stoudemire signed with the Knicks in 2010, it was supposed to precede bigger things — both for New York and Stoudemire.
The Knicks were still in the running for fellow free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Stoudemire was just 27 and had already made an All-NBA first team and three second teams.
But it wasn’t to be.
LeBron and Wade picked the Heat. Stoudemire had only one monster season in New York before being overcome by injuries. After teaming up with Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire won just one playoff series with the Knicks.
Stoudemire returns to New York, but this time, there are no grand expectations. Just a quiet ending.
NBA great Amar’e Stoudemire announced his retirement as a player in the National Basketball Association today, after signing with the New York Knickerbockers for his final contract in the league.
“I want to thank Mr. Dolan, Phil [Jackson] and Steve [Mills] for signing me so that I can officially retire as a New York Knick,” Stoudemire said. “I came to New York in 2010 to help revitalize this franchise and we did just that. Carmelo [Anthony], Phil and Steve have continued this quest, and with this year’s acquisitions, the team looks playoff-bound once again. Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple. Once a Knick, Always a Knick.”
Stoudemire might think of himself as a Knick, but many of us will remember him with the Suns. He spent eight — and most of his best seasons — in Phoenix.
Entering the NBA straight from high school, Stoudemire faced numerous questions about his maturity and readiness. He answered those by winning Rookie of the Year.
Eventually, Stoudemire became the center for Mike D’Antoni’s seven-seconds-or-less Suns, thrashing opponents inside with Steve Nash as a pick-and-roll partner. Stoudemire got a bigger stage in New York, but his body broke down, and he became known for his albatross contract.
He spent the last couple seasons with the Mavericks and Heat, seemingly erasing memories of his early dominance.
Stoudemire has a decently strong Hall of Fame case. At his peak, he was in the running for the league’s best center behind Shaquille O’Neal. Retiring at age 33 won’t give Stoudemire many longevity points, but because he jumped straight from high school, he still played 14 pro seasons.
As distance grows between Stoudemire’s career and the present, we’ll gain perspective and think more about his prime than his decline. History will treat Stoudemire well.