Sheridan: Stoudemire brutal and ambivalent in his return

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Maybe the Knicks’ fast start set expectations too high.

Heck, that’s what happened across the East River in the final month of 2012, and we all know how that turned out for Avery Johnson and the Nets, right?

Is this a Knicks team that is going to embrace mediocrity, or something just a notch above mediocrity?

Or will they go back to defining superiority the way they did when they knocked off the Heat by 20 points. Twice.

Watching them on their home court, listening to them afterward, you got the sense that the urgency is not quite what it was just a couple weeks back.

And is it going to get easier now that Stoudemire has to be worked back into the rotation (if that is indeed the plan — Woodson ducked a question beforehand about whether he could envision keeping Stoudemire in a bench role throughout the season)?

“There’s no rush to force the issue right now. When that time comes and coach needs me, I’ll be ready,” Stoudemire said with a calmness that I found alarming.

If these Knicks are truly going to be a championship-contending team, they can’t accept being the .500 team that they’ve become since mid-December.

They need to win the East, not finish near the top.

And a loss to a team like the Trail Blazers, as overachieving of a bunch as there is in the West, should be the type of thing that left Stoudemire down in the dumps.

Instead, he had an “it’s all good” demeanor that struck me as odd.

It ain’t all good if Stoudemire remains a shell of what he once was. But we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, take a step back and see where he is in 10 games. He’ll get to go against Kevin Garnett (twice), Nikola Vucevic, David West, Greg Monroe and Brook Lopez during that span, and at some point he will put up a 20-10 game that’ll remind everyone of the Stoudemire of old.

Right?

If not, maybe then folks will start to get bothered by what still looks like a fundamental construction flaw in this team.

Because again, if I am a Knicks fan (which, as a neutral observer, I am not), I am worried about one thing — finishing with a better record than the Heat. And when losses pile up because the intensity of November looks gone when it is only January, I’d have a nervous twitch by now.

Stoudemire looked rustier than a ’39 Ford that has been sitting in a field for two decades. I know it has been 9 months since he played, but I expected more production on the court and less ambivalence in the locker room afterward.

And I expect it sooner rather than later.

Otherwise, that 1973 championship banner will be flapping in the rafters the way it has been for 40 years, getting yellow with age — and with little hope of seeing a companion alongside it anytime soon.

Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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  1. Chris:

    A harsh commentary considering this was STAT’s first game of the year. You don’t look at results the first game back from an injury, conditioning, jumping ability and endurance are the criteria which should be considered when evaluating a player’s first game. Chris, you are way off base in your criticism.

  2. J Sandiford says:

    This wasn’t the Knicks team that came out with no energy against the Kings. This was a team that came out uncertain after missing their three current starters (Chandler, Kidd and Anthony) during their practice sessions, being out one starter (Felton), and trying to work a hopeful starter (Stoudemire) back into the lineup.

    Yes, you do hope this Knicks team would have a little fire, but at the same time you have to have an understanding that when half the team is trying to figure it out on the court with no practice that a night like this might happen.

  3. This is your lead article? I always think of this site, along with Zach Lowe’s work, to be a solid basketball resource. This sounds like an angry dude with a vendetta giving a bad restaurant review. Sheridan, dont worry about Stat’s demeanor. The guy had a year from hell last season, hoped to start fresh this year and was set off track again by injury. I dont think Amare himself can put into words the emotions that were flowing through him once he stepped on the Garden floor. Dont you think your malice should be directed towards maybe the NY back court who look old and afraid to shoot? Amare isnt why the Knicks had a December lull. The missed 3′s (NOVAK IS MIA), porous guard defense and limited guard offensive output is why. Smarten up and write a knowledgeable piece about the game, not that your salty that Stat isn’t. Guy just accomplished a goal, im sure that is one of many still to come. You sound like a real hater Sheridan, an uninformed and unhuman one at that. Go have a tough run of luck and see how your able to answer questions to reporters after a momentous day. Oh thats right, no one would ask you anyway. On to Zach Lowe for an actual thought provoking NBA analysis.

  4. This is an abolutely stupid article.

    Amar’e is making his return after missing 3 months so of of course he’s going to look out of sync. The team has been struggling from the defensive end for the last 2-3 weeks so you can’t blame that on Amar’e either. As far as critiquing his attitude post-game, it’s fair but the guy has been dogged since last May when he hit that fire extinguisher and all he’s been reading and hearing about is how the team is better without him and how his return is going to sabotage the team…after all that to get a minute of love from an otherwise demanding crowd, Im sure it really did bring him to tears. Now if he’s still like this a week from now then I’ll be mad but to make a stink about it now makes me think Chris has some vendetta.

    Lastly, the NBA regular season is a joke and we all know it. It’s all about surviving and getting a strong seed into the playoffs…that’s where the real season starts.

  5. 3 days off. New Year’s Day. I’ll forgive the lack of intensity b/c of the holidays. MIA just lost to DET. Anyway, last night had little to do with Amar’e. Kidd-Priggs-Novak scored 2 points combines, 6 assists and shot 0-10 from downtown. NYK started Kurt Thomas & Ronnie Brewer, and this duo combined for 5 points. With all that, Melo had a chance to tie it with 15 seconds left.

  6. Yes the lack of defensive intensity is discouraging but is it surprising when the options at PG have been an injured Felton and two old PGs like Kidd and Prigioni? Nevermind Stat, he’s rusty and he’s not familiar with the defensive rotations. However the perimeter defense is by far the worst problem the Knicks have to date. Opposing PGs do what they want to Kidd and Pablo and it forces the help to react and with a couple of passes you have open looks. Knicks will have to adjust while Felton and Shumpert recover. That’s no solace for many Knicks fans but it’s the truth. You cannot expect 40 year olds to keep up with the 20 year olds. Brace for a tough January (winter is coming!).

  7. I have more of a problem with the Knicks fans cheering on Amare like an unsung hero and completely forgetting the fact that he sabatoged 2 consecutive playoff appearances . . . one year doing trick dunks in warmups versus the C’s then the next year when he had a boxing fight with a fire extinguisher versus the Heat.

    However, I am not going to get on his case for looking rusty when he’s had no preseason and not played in a quite some time. However, sadly, I’m already weary after 20 minutes of play at how many times he switched defenders on screens to create mismatches. It’s infuriating and he’s obviously not learned a thing watching from the sidelines about how to react defensively. Forget learning to score in the post with Hakeem . . . focus on rebounding and defense like Cyde mentioned during the broacast, please.

    • Hey Joe, this knick team your currently enjoying in ’12-’13, thats because of #1. Without STAT’s signature, there is no Melo or Tyson. How quickly people forget. Im sure you were chanting MVP two seasons ago also. Mustve been your first as a knicks fan sen

  8. Chris is right. As a Knick fan, I was disturbed at their lack of intensity in the first half. You cannot keep playing from behind and afterwards they all looked nonchalant about the loss. What did they practice over the last two days before they played Portland? Now is not the time to build complacency. The Sixers are playing better ball, the Hawks have remained solid and consistent and you have to expect the Celtics to come around sooner or later.

    If the Knicks aren’t careful they could dig a deep hole for themselves.

  9. “I know it has been 9 months since he played, but I expected more production on the court and less ambivalence in the locker room afterward.”

    More production on the court? Have you ever come back from an injury? It takes about 3 minutes and you’re completely gassed. His minutes need to be managed very carefully.

    The ambivalence is likely due to the fact that they have 50 games to figure it out.

  10. Slow night at the desk Chris? It’s early January, plenty of time to get Amare right, and now is the time to do it. His post-surgery ineffectiveness is expected and accepted, hence the “ambivalence” after the game. I’d be more alarmed if he didn’t keep a positive attitude, unlike yourself. Knicks will be fine, and though I do agree, jury is still out on Amare and Melo co-existing, only a healthy Amare can help us make that final determination. He needs time. As a lifelong Knicks fan, I’m with the vets on this one. Let’s give it a few weeks. Until then, write about the lazy, ineffective Deron Williams if you’d like. Thanks.

  11. Finishing second or even third in the conference wouldn’t be the end of the world for the Knicks. This team is built to beat the Heat in a 7 game series. Heat were the second seed last year look what happen.

    • Knicks can win the East if they win 75 pct of their games each month. They can’t afford losses liike this and just accept it. Sorry to be hard on them, but No. 1 in East is within reach and they should be striving for it.

      • That isn’t the goal. If it was don’t you think Melo would have played in some of those games he missed? The goal is championship. Winning the conference would be nice but that obviously isn’t the main goal.

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  1. […] you were to ask Chris Sheridan over at Sheridan Hoops, the answer would be really, really […]

  2. [...] you were to ask Chris Sheridan over at Sheridan Hoops, the answer would be really, really bad: Amare Stoudemire made an inglorious return to the court [...]

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