If you’ll allow a Knicks hat and a pseudo press conference to stand in (for now) for a name on the line that is dotted, the Knicks now have six players on their roster: Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, … and Amar’e Stoudemire. That last one will make more next year than the other five combined. He is now ours.
We’ll get into the further ramifications of Amar’e “signing” — which cannot officially happen until Thursday — later today, but right now, we felt we should reintroduce you to Amar’e Stoudemire, the man whose jersey you can already preorder even though he’s not actually on the team yet. Meet Amar’e through these helpful ten facts.
1. He’s been playing basketball for less than half of his life. He didn’t pick up the game until he was 14 years old, but he was so obviously talented that he declared for the NBA draft four years later. The Suns drafted him with the ninth overall pick, and he won Rookie of the Year for the 2002–03 season.
2. He was good long before Steve Nash. The spritely soccer-loving Suns point guard certainly improved Stoudemire, but Amar’e won that Rookie of the Year award with a decidedly less accomplished point guard: Stephon Marbury.
3. No. 1 is a lot different than No. 32. Stoudemire wore No. 32 his first couple of years in the league, but he stopped on June 2, 2005, after the Suns lost to the Spurs in the Western Conference finals (a series in which Stoudemire averaged 37 points a game). He was thought to be the league’s next monster superstar, but microfracture surgery wiped out his 2005–06 season (other than three games). He returned for 2006–07 with a different number and a different game, more earthbound. He has since regained strength and flexibility with the knee and might have been the best player in the NBA the second half of last season.
4. The goggles are for a detached retina. He injured the eye in February 2009 and had surgery that cost him the rest of that season. He’ll be wearing the goggles the rest of his career.
5. He is on Twitter. Follow your new power forward at Amareisreal.
6. He and Mike D’Antoni get along fine. The two, formerly teamed with the Suns, had a meeting to clear the air over the weekend, but it wasn’t really necessary. As Jack McCallum, author of the great Seven Seconds or Less, wrote for SI.com yesterday, “D’Antoni genuinely liked Stoudemire and appreciated his boyish enthusiasm and self-confidence, both of which, not incidentally, have been on display in recent days.”
7. He hated the Arizona immigration law. Though it’s a bit difficult to point out exactly why.
8. The most important game he was ever involved with, he didn’t play in. Tim Donaghy might remind you of a certain game five. (For the full drama of everything involving Amar’e, check out this great Bethlehem Shoals piece.)
9. That the Amar’e’s contract isn’t insured — because of his knee — is only a big deal if you’re really concerned about Jim Dolan’s personal finances. The Knicks would be on the hook for the salary cap money anyway; if Amar’e gets hurt again, it just means that Dolan can’t get a rebate. It won’t affect the team’s cap number. So: You know, who cares?
10. The Knicks just signed Amar’e freaking Stoudemire. There’s more work to be done, but … holy crap, you guys!