We’re not sure if Friday’s Heat-Knicks game will match Wednesday’s Celtics-Knicks for drama.
But the matchup already has presented Miami and New York with a win-win situation.
The Knicks have their singular star in Amare Stoudemire.
The Heat have their complete complement in Chris Bosh.
Although this will be the first time the power forwards cross paths this season, they essentially were interchangeable parts during the free-agency process.
In fact, at last season’s trading deadline, the Heat made a huge push for Stoudemire, going as far as to propose a three-team deal that would have landed Carlos Boozer as a temporary replacement part for Stoudemire in Phoenix.
Then, this past July, Bosh and Stoudemire essentially were mix-and-match pieces for the Knicks, who made pitches to each during the opening days of free agency.
The Knicks ultimately landed Stoudemire because they were willing to go all-in earlier than Pat Riley. Riley, by contrast, knew that LeBron James wanted Bosh, and that meant waiting for Bosh, even as Stoudemire slipped off the table.
In the end, each team got what it needed.
For years, Stoudemire bristled about being denied the opportunity to be the focus in Phoenix. If it wasn’t Steve Nash being lauded for his passing, it was Shawn Marion being praised for his finishing. What Stoudemire craved was his name at the top of the marquee. He has that in New York. He is Patrick Ewing, albeit far more beloved at this moment.
Bosh, by contrast, was that exact type of singular focus in Toronto for seven seasons, the be-all, do-all presence required to handle the heavy lifting. It became an obligation more onerous than Canadian taxes. In Miami, he is a willing assistant, as much the frontrunner for Third Wheel of the Year as Stoudemire is for MVP.
And Stoudemire very much has the look of a Most Valuable Player. The red lights on the scorers’ table and around the backboard might have denied him three points at the end of Wednesday’s game against the Celtics, but the shot itself only further endeared him to those looking for a hoops hero at 33rd and 8th.
No less than LeBron has Amare at the top of his MVP ballot. There is no jealousy there, even as James stands in line for a three-peat for that very hardware.
And there is no jealousy from Bosh, who essentially stands as the Heat’s equivalent of Danilo Gallinari, functional third option.
“I was just looking at the situation for me,” Bosh said of his free-agent deliberations. “Of course you’re aware of what other players are doing and what they’re thinking, because it’s always on the TV, it was always on the TV every day at that point.
“But with us playing the same positions, I knew it was either him somewhere or me somewhere. And I just wanted to be in the best situation possible. And I’m a lucky guy. I’m here now.”
Friday, though, Bosh will be there, at the Garden, competing head-to-head with Stoudemire, just as he did during those opening days of July.
But while the positions are the same, the roles couldn’t be more different, one currently the NBA’s leading man, the king of the city, the other a supporting actor enjoying the role, and roll, of his career.