GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Speaking publicly for the first time since he battled a fire extinguisher following Monday night’s Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat, Amar’e Stoudemire said there’s a “great chance” he will play in Sunday’s Game 4 at Madison Square Garden.
“Yeah, I think there’s a great chance I’ll play Sunday night, not totally sure yet,” he told a slew of reporters here Wednesday.
Stoudemire had a surgical procedure on the left hand Tuesday and is out for Game 3 Thursday. His hand remains heavily bandaged and he is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday.
It didn’t sound as though Stoudemire issued a formal apology Wednesday to his teammates for his self-inflicting wound, but they seemed more concerned with his welfare than his contrition.
“I talked to him personally over the phone yesterday, over the text,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We had our conversation. He feels bad about what happened. He understands what was at stake, the situation. The only thing I care about is him being healthy and his hand being OK. He did it, it’s over with. I don’t really care about that as long as his hand is fine.”
Said head coach Mike Woodson: “We talked and I think he owed everybody that. He was very apologetic. He feels bad enough. Amar’e's gone through a lot this year. My job is to support him because he’s family. He’s a part of our crew, a big piece of the puzzle and I’m going to show all the love and support I can give him.”
Stoudemire never said he apologized but said he takes full responsibility for his actions.
“Absolutely,” he said. “No one else did it for me. It was all me. But again, I wasn’t expecting to hit the glass. I mean, it’s a small two inch strip of glass that’s on the fire extinguisher door. So I wasn’t looking – I really didn’t want to cut myself. Who in the world wants to hurt themselves? You know what I mean? That wasn’t the case at all. Unfortunately it happened and I have to deal with it.”
Asked if he was embarrassed, Stoudemire said: “It’s disappointing to my teammates. I didn’t want to let them down, I know how important this game is for us, I wasn’t expecting this to be this much of a blow but it is.”
Stoudemire said he did not ball his fist and punch the glass-encased extinguisher, but rather smacked it with his the back of his hand.
“I was like, holy s-h-i-t,” he said. “When I hit my hand on the fire extinguisher door, I took a look at my hand, I was like, ‘What?’ I was sad at the moment. I was feeling bad for my teammates. Out of all the times after games when you kick over an ice cooler, a chair, you get upset, everyone gets upset, so passionate for the game. Everyone gets upset at times. Never in a million years would I think I would cut my hand the way I did. So bad timing, but I’ll be back.”
Stoudemire said he wasn’t even aware at first that he had lacerated his hand, which required treatment by paramedics and stitches on the scene in Miami.
“I didn’t know I was cut at all until Josh Harrelson told me,” he said. “Unfortunately after the games, you’re very passionate, things happen, you don’t expect to injure yourself or anything like that. But you just gotta deal with it.”
Stoudemire has only taken 16 shots in the two games and is averaging 13.5 points and six rebounds in the series. Asked if he was frustrated by his diminished role in the offense, he said he wasn’t.
“Nah, I don’t think so,” he said. “Coach [Mike] Woodson does a great job of figuring out what wins and what works for us. So my main frustration with Game 2 was the fact that we lost Game 2 and we knew how important it was to win one game on the road. So having Miami up 2-0 is tough for us to deal with because we wanted to get that win. That was mainly my reason.”
The Knicks now face the prospect of trying to slow the freight train that is LeBron James and company without Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin and Iman Shumpert, who underwent surgery to repair his left ACL and meniscus Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery. They’ve also battled other injuries all season.
“We’ve been faced with adversity all year,” Stoudemire said. “I went out. Carmelo [Anthony] went out. Jeremy went out. Jared Jeffries went out. We’ve been dealing with adversity all year. It’s been a heck of a year for us. So I do feel like we have the players that are so professional, so focused on the game, we have a chance to win.”
The Knicks have already tied an NBA record with 12 straight playoff losses and could set the record with unlucky No. 13 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Still, the Knicks are 14-5 without Stoudemire this year. They went 9-4 when he missed 13 games late in the season with a bulging disk in his back. Playing power forward, Anthony averaged 30.6 points in those games.
“Hopefully,” Stoudemire said, “I can heal up fast and get ready for Game 4.”