By Dan Ferrara, NBA International
Before injuries marred his brilliant career, Amar’e Stoudemire was a Rookie of the Year winner with six All-Star appearances and seven seasons averaging over 20 points per game. As he officially retires from the NBA, it’s important to remember how truly dominant Stoudemire was and how he impacted franchises and the game of basketball overall.
Stoudemire’s most dominant stretch was undoubtedly with the Phoenix Suns, where his athleticism was simply too much for teams to handle. He was quick off the dribble getting to the hole, strong off the block and incredibly explosive in the post. One of the most feared power forwards in the league, he would frequently blast through defenses and finish hard at the rim, often with a posterizing dunk.
As a member of Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds Or Less” offense in Phoenix, Stoudemire dominated the league in a variety of ways, but most notably through the expert execution of the pick and roll with point guard Steve Nash. The two were arguably the most exciting superstar duo in the league and the Suns were a sight to see. With a lighting-quick pace and smooth three-point stroke they were today’s Warriors a decade earlier.
Though the Suns made the playoffs in six of Stoudemire’s eight seasons, they failed to reach the NBA Finals in a stacked Western Conference, getting bounced in the Conference Finals three times. Phoenix hasn’t made the playoffs since Stoudemire’s departure after the 2009-10 season, however.
The summer of 2010 is widely known as the “Summer of LeBron,” but for the New York Knicks, it proved to be the Summer of STAT, as the dynamic forward landed himself a max contract and vowed to put the Knicks back on the map.
In his first season in the Big Apple, Stoudemire proved to do just that, averaging 25.3 points per game and making the Knicks a desirable destination again – they landed superstar Carmelo Anthony in a trade with the Denver Nuggets and made the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
The Knicks would make the playoffs in Stoudemire’s first three seasons with the team, though they never got past the Eastern Conference semifinals. As the conditions of his knees worsened and the little injuries piled up, Stoudemire’s on-court productivity diminished, passing the torch to Carmelo Anthony as the team’s lone superstar. Still, Stoudemire’s heart and passion for the game was evident, as he was a crowd favorite at Madison Square Garden long after he was a regular starter.
Stoudemire would have short stints with the Dallas Mavericks (23 games) and the Miami Heat (52 games) in the final two seasons of his career, but he signed with New York so he could officially retire as a New York Knick, a franchise that holds a special place in his heart for more reasons than just basketball.
“I came to New York in 2010 to help revitalize this franchise and we did just that. Carmelo [Anthony], Phil and Steve have continued this quest, and with this year’s acquisitions, the team looks playoff-bound once again,” Stoudemire said in his retirement press release. “Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple. Once a Knick, Always a Knick.”
Stoudemire was not only a fantastic player on the court, but he also helped revolutionize the game of basketball and made one of the league’s premier teams a respectable franchise once again after years of misery. Upon his retirement, fans should remember the days where he obliterated the rim and screamed into the crowd in fury.