Monday, March 26, 2012

N.Y. Knicks ~ Amare's Back is Knicks Pain

From the desk of:   DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

NEW YORK KNICKS:  Amare's Back and Knicks Season Bulging With Concerns.  MRI Reveals Bad News.

Wonder Twins Powers - deactivated.  If it wasn't Melo's team before, it certainly is now.  And guys like me, who aren't exactly on his side, need to grasp that.  The Knicks' remaining regular season and their playoff aspirations now lie singularly in his hands.

An MRI revealed Amare Stoudemire has a bulging disk in his lower back.  The Knicks said he will be out indefinitely.  Naturally, Amare is headed to Miami for a second opinion.  But I think you can pretty much etch this one in stone.  He'll be lost for a considerable time.  MRI's like this are pretty cut and dry.  And plus, you never know with backs.  Once compromised, a bad back never seems to go away.  And I think Amare's first inclination is to treat this without surgery.  As this is only day one of the news, I guess we'll learn more as we go.

Two local players come to mind when thinking about this type of injury; Don Mattingly, and former Knick Larry Johnson.  Before back problems and before becoming a Knick, Larry Johnson was Grand Mama for the then, Charlotte Hornets.  After back surgery, Johnson continued his career as an effective player, and helped the Knicks reach the Finals.  But he had to drastically alter his style of play in order to do it, as he was no longer able to elevate and ceased to be a thunderous dunk waiting to happen.  He became a mid-range perimeter shooter, and a (I hate saying finesse..) creative, multiple-move player, down in the low post.  His ability to drive the basket with power however, was all but gone.  Grand Mama had become, Mr. Lay-Up.

Who knows if that's what's in store for Amare Stoudemire.   But many aspects of Amare's game this season come into better focus now.  There have been nights with nary an attempted rebound on his part, and on other nights, he could hardly jump at all.

I guess this is the time when we start asking ourselves if his off-season work-out regimen might have been a contributing factor?  Amare himself described his off-season strength conditioning program as new, and intense.  While that's speculative, this certainly shouldn't strike us as a surprise.  Everyone questioned whether Amare Stoudemire's body would hold up over the course of Commissioner Stern's post lock-out compressed schedule.

So here we are.  As I watch tonight's game, the Knicks are a game and a half ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth playoff spot.  And with a sub-.500 record I might add.  But dare I say the Knicks job just got easier?  At least now, we know exactly who's getting the ball.  The game goes through Melo by necessity.

All the debate about what Coach Woodson would do differently, etc. etc,.. are all moot points now.  Time and time again, sports reminds us things have a way of working themselves out.  Injuries usually play a large role in that.  If anything, I'm looking for Tyson Chandler to pick up a lot of the slack in Amare's absence.  I'm actually expecting Melo, Chandler, and the three-headed monster at the point, to mesh even better now.  And none of that should be a knock on Amare.  It's just without him, things get simplified somewhat.  Just like when Melo was hurt and Jeremy Lin became unleashed.  Winning without Melo, was again, just a matter of having things simplified somewhat.

The Knicks bench is an entirely different story.

After the way Amare came to town last year and took a bunch of unknowns under his wing, and made the Garden a fun place to be again, I have nothing but compassion for the man, and wish him a speedy recovery.  Amare Stoudemire is definitely one of the good guys.


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