We hope you'll forgive us, but we're having a hard time riling up the obligatory amount of outrage in the wake of Amar'e Stoudemire's frustrated fire-extinguisher punch after the Knicks' Game 2 loss to the Heat last night. It was stupid, sure, but most emotional outbursts are; we guarantee you that at some point during your workday today, someone will react to bad news emotionally rather than logically, and you won't call what they did "unforgivable" or "selfish." It happens. It's deeply unfortunate, but the criticism of the Knicks' superstars has been that they don't care enough? Isn't the fear of any sports fan that they care more about their team than their players do? We're pretty sure Amar'e took last night's loss worse than we did. We just sighed and went to bed.
You can see the narrative already starting to shape for Amar'e, though, and it's not a positive one; in his "unforgivable" column, Ian O'Connor goes so far as to throw the names "A.J. Burnett" and "Kevin Brown" in the lead. The Knicks lost last night to the Heat and frankly will be fortunate to send the series back to Miami by winning their first playoff game in more than eleven years, but one gets a sense that this is going to end up being known as "The Amar'e Stoudemire Fire Extinguisher Series." It doesn't take much here.
It's not yet known whether Stoudemire will miss Game 3 — we'll know more this afternoon, after they do an MRI and more X-rays — but if he does, the Knicks will be down Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, and Jeremy Lin. And also Baron Davis and Jared Jeffries are still hobbled. They will take this limping, frustrated team back to New York on Thursday night to play a Heat team that is clicking the way everyone has been waiting for them to click. With the injury to the Bulls' Derrick Rose, the Heat are smelling blood, and not just Stoudemire's. Great.
One could argue that Stoudemire's absence — if he is in fact absent — isn't as crushing as it could be. (It's surely not as bad as if Carmelo Anthony had punched that glass.) Stoudemire was rarely in the flow last night, just as he's rarely been in the flow since returning from his most recent injury. Our late-night musing that Josh Harrellson might have provided more than Amar'e — if just because of increased defensive intensity — might be tested immediately. Sure, the main thing the Knicks need right now is a second scoring option outside of Carmelo, but as much as we want him to be, Amar'e just isn't that guy right now, sliced hand or no sliced hand. It also is becoming more and more clear that Carmelo and Amar'e, both isolation players, just aren't going to work together well; they've had more than a year now, and it still feels like two guys standing on opposite sides of the court from one another seeing who ends up with the ball. Amar'e theoretically should be coming off the bench, but that's tough for a guy you owe $65 million to still.
But that's not an issue right now. Right now, the issue is that the Knicks have one guy who can reliably score, along with their best three defenders hindered by a knee injury, a serious knee injury, and a lingering flu virus. And they're facing a team that most people think is going to win the NBA title. And they're down 2-0. And everyone's losing their minds again. You know what? If you'll excuse us, we need to go punch a fire extinguisher.