Dear Mr. Stoudemire,
I say this with no enthusiasm, nor pleasure, but you have always been forthright, so I’ll just give it to you straight: It’s time to move on from New York.
Let me preface this by admitting that in the summer of 2010, when you decided to take your talents to New York, I was one of the few fans who reacted to the news with glee. Yes, I felt like I was punched in the gut when LeBron made his decision, and yes, I was a bit freaked out by that nefarious contract you signed but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that the Knicks were no longer going to settle for being a league bottom-feeder and we finally had a marquee player to prove it. While some players were terrified of New York’s bright lights, those very same lights were what brought you here. Though many fans forget this, I’ll always remember it.
What many fans also are quick to forget is your first season here. You remember those 25.3ppg, 8.2rebs,1.9 blks, and .502 shooting from the field that made you New York’s first first-ballot All-Star representative in over a decade right? Though it seems like an eternity ago, your 30 point streak was some of the most phenomenal basketball seen at the Garden from one our own as far as I can remember.
I also remember how you lead our ragtag roster into battle against East titans like Boston and Miami. At the time the Knicks were grossly outmatched, but you put the franchise on your shoulders and somehow made us believe that we actually could take on these guys. Of course all Knick fans have it in their DNA to expect disappointment, but for a moment that elusive sliver of belief meant everything to me since it was literally years before I could even picture the Knicks being a part of the post-season.
Allow me to digress a bit and talk about another one of my abusive relationships with this city’s other perpetual disappointment: The New York Mets. You coming here brings back memories of when an aged Pedro Martinez became Met.
To Mets fans, it didn’t matter how much we paid him or what our championship chances looked like, because what was important was that a new era finally bloomed for a disenchanted fan base. Before any other notable players (Beltran, Delgado, Wagner, etc.) came to the Mets, Pedro needed to be here first as confirmation to fans and the rest of the league that this team was serious about winning games and giving us the respected players we clamored for.
In a way both you and Pedro were there to raise your teams’ flags to alert everyone of the new and promising era. Of course, much like you, Pedro’s brighter days in a Mets uniform were limited to his first season, but unlike you, the fans didn’t jeer him. We knew that Pedro’s signing was more of a requisite transaction that needed to be done in order to set the stage for the next few years as younger players picked up where he left off in leading the Mets into contention.
And much like Pedro broke down before us, watching you play in limited minutes as a shell of the All-Star pedigree player you were, is hard to stomach. The difference between you and Pedro is that he knew the limitations of his body and when to call it quits. To you, the notion of quitting is something completely foreign to you and that’s commendable.
Smash cut to today. No longer are highlights of you swatting shots and scoring in rhythmic ease populating YouTube. Instead those videos have been reduced to Benny Hill-like spoofs of you looking lost on defense and an endless parade of memes with you pulverizing fire extinguishers.
For the record, I actually didn’t mind you losing that fight to the helpless extinguisher. You’ve always been an emotional player that feeds off the energy of the crowd and I’m glad at least one Knick in that locker room was riled by losing to the Heat. To fans, sometimes raising your head high after a loss and keeping it cool isn’t what we want to see.
You’ve never been one to contain the passion you have for the game and I can only imagine how embarrassing it is to be playing on your current leash before a national stage. It reminds of those old clips of a limping Andre the Giant’s last days when he was sparingly trotted out to empty arenas and made everyone nervous he would literally break in half at the slightest of animated movements. And just like Andre, when your minutes are over, there’s more of a collective sigh of relief your knees didn’t implode than any excitement gained from the work you just put in during some forgotten point in the game.
Standing Tall And Talented has been a creed you live your life by, and it’s time to realize that “standing tall” in this instance means moving on from the Knicks. This may hurt a bit, but you have to come to terms with these hard truths:
- You are not the impactful player you used to be.
- You don’t fit well into the current roster.
- You no longer are helping the Knicks.
- You won’t receive any meaningful minutes here and those scarce minutes aren’t even enough to help your development.
- Your contract is debilitating to the Knicks’ salary cap situation and is better off being paid in full than waiting to expire.
- Being on a different team can actually save your career.
These truths don’t need any elaboration since they are as simple as they sound, but the earlier you accept them, the sooner you can begin the next stage of your career. Accepting these truths probably means more than asking for a trade since your contract is regularly cited as one the most immovable ones in league history. I know retirement must be a uncomfortable thought seeing as it was just two seasons ago you were putting up good numbers, but when doctors first told the Knicks you “only had three years left of good health” it appears they were right on target.
No one wants to be told what they are capable of but when it comes to matters of health, doctors don’t care about how much heart you have or what you feel inside, they deal strictly in the confines of medial competence. I’m afraid despite what your heart & mind are telling; it’s just not congruent with reality anymore.
What I do appreciate is that through this embarrassing trial you still manage to always be the first one off the bench to greet your teammates, you weather the increasingly loud home court jeers like a total pro, and you don’t let the catty New York press alter your determination to prove you are better than what everyone is saying about you. In fact, here in New York we have a bit of history in writing off players as “finished” when more competent franchises have resurrected those very same careers.
Before you there was players like Dikembe Mutumbo who was told he was finished before he went on five serviceable years with the Houston Rockets. And before him there was Antonio McDyess who played an additional seven significant seasons with the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs. Hell, even Tim Thomas became an asset to playoff teams after his Knick career.
What I’m trying to get at is that though you aren’t the player you used to be, by no means does it mean your basketball career has to be over. If you took some time off to get in better conditioning you could very well become an intriguing piece to a playoff ready time later in the year.
Besides, wouldn’t you be better served playing for a veteran team like the Spurs or Lakers? There isn’t any minutes left for you here so the longer you remain a Knick, the longer it’s going to take to begin your new role of being the veteran forward that everyone playoff team yearns for later in the year. Trust me, Knick fans will be rooting for you.
If your still reading this far, perhaps some of this is sinking in. Do the right thing and tell your agent to explore the buyout process. It’s no fun watching you limp up and down the court for a handful of minutes every four games, and it certainly isn’t to any benefit of the Knicks. You can still help us, and still help yourself, by pushing to be bought out.
With all of the money James Dolan has thrown around, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. You’ve been a fighter all of your life, but this fight against health isn’t one you can win. What you can do is embrace it and adjust to circumstances, and that’s what every Knick fan wants to see…just not in New York. So let me leave you with this you Mr. Stoudemire- and it’s something that took me 30 years to learn myself: There comes a time in every man’s life when standing tall, isn’t standing at all. It’s having the courage to move on.
In all sincerity, thank you for everything STAT.