Former New York Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire wrote an essay in the Players’ Tribune looking back on his illustrious career.
Amar’e Stoudemire announced his retirement from NBA competition last week as a member of the New York Knicks and in a press conference on Monday confirmed the rumor that his playing career was in fact not over.
He would continue in Israel with Hapoel Jerusalem, the team in which he was a part owner. Stoudemire reflected on his career in an essay in the Players’ Tribune piece entitled This Isn’t Goodbye.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) August 1, 2016
Stoudemire began the piece by talking about his best run as a Knick, in his first season.
It was December 15, 2010. I had just scored 30 or more points for the ninth straight game — a Knicks record. Madison Square Garden was alive — I mean alive— cheering for me, cheering for us. I’d never heard anything like it. I’d never heard love like that before. For the first time in a long time, the Knicks were a team to be reckoned with. We lost by two that night (and only after my three had been waived off at the buzzer) to the Celtics. But more importantly, there was an awakening. Not just in MSG, but in the entire city.
The star forward continued by talking about the renewed excitement that he brought to New York City basketball.
Everyone was going to our games. And if they couldn’t go to the games, they were going to bars to watch them. People were enjoying themselves before and partying after. I swear we single-handedly revived New York’s economy. We were rock stars — me and Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and the rest of the team. Obviously, being celebrities wasn’t our job. It was fun, but our No. 1 job was to be great basketball players — to win. Still, you can’t beat being a rock star.
He spoke about getting into trouble in high school, running with the wrong crowd, and realizing he needed a change. Even at a young age, Stoudemire was mature.
When I was a freshman at Cypress Creek High in Orlando, I realized I was going down a dangerous road. I was hanging out with the wrong crew. I had started ditching classes, and my grades started dropping. I knew I needed to wake up, get away, and just focus on basketball.
“I went to my coach and mentor, Burney Hayes. My father passed away when I was 12, and my mother was serving time in prison. Coach Hayes was one of the people who took me in. I told him, “Coach, I need to get out of here. I’m starting to get into trouble. Is there anywhere I can go?”
Of course he talked about playing for the Phoenix Suns, Mike D’Antoni and the legendary seven seconds or less offense. STAT made particular mention of Steve Nash‘s influence, a recurring theme during the piece. They obviously had a close relationship during their careers.
When we brought Steve on board, we reached a whole new level. Everyone else fed off him. Once you have a pass-first point guard, a guy who just focuses on getting the ball to where it needs to be —who’s just making his teammates better — it opens up the entire game.
We redefined the game of basketball. Before us, the center position was more like Shaq or Karl Malone. We didn’t have that size, but we had speed. Mike D’Antoni made a decision to go small. Teams weren’t ready for it. They weren’t ready for Seven Seconds or Less.
Steve was one of the best passers and shooters the game has ever seen, and I had the best seat in the house to watch him work. Steve took my game to a whole new level. He showed me what it meant to be a leader.
Stoudemire took time out to mention a few of his former superstar teammates specifically.
He remembered Shaquille O’Neal fondly, like most of his peers.
“Shaq. I idolized him growing up. And I got to play with him in Phoenix in ’08 and ’09. We did work, too. I was putting up insane numbers thanks to him and all the attention teams had to give him.”
He paid Dirk Nowitzki the ultimate complement.
“Then there’s Dirk Nowitzki. The toughest player I ever had to guard. That one-legged fadeaway? There’s just no stopping it. Luckily when we were on the same team for a few months in 2015, I didn’t have to. I could play off him and just watch him work.”
His Miami Heat teammate from last season, Dwyane Wade got a shout out as well. Stoudemire notes Wade’s trademark effortless skill.
I got to play a bit this year with Dwyane Wade, yet another Hall of Famer. He keeps his dribble so low to the ground, and he’s deceptively quick. It just takes two dribbles for him to get through the lane and explode to the rim. He looks like he’s going through the game on cruise control, but at the end of the night he has 28 points and nine assists.
Even Stoudemire “rival” Carmelo Anthony got a special mention at the end of the piece.
“Last, but definitely not least, Carmelo Anthony. I think he’s the best pure scorer in the NBA. It just comes so easy to him. When he’s at his best, he’s playing an entirely different game than the rest of us. That night when he scored 62 at the Garden, that was easy for him. He could have gotten 70, maybe more. He just flowed out there on the court. That’s what the game is all about, getting to a level like Carmelo is on. When a great player performs like that, it’s fun to watch. I should know, I was there.”