Amar'e: Ex-boss likely a leading hardliner

Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns reacts

Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the NBA game against the Orlando Magic at US Airways Center . (March 13, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Amar'e Stoudemire believes he knows where to place the blame for the NBA's aggressive stance against the players' union: the owner of his former team, the Phoenix Suns.

"[Robert] Sarver, for sure," Stoudemire said. "He's probably the main guy that's pushing for this lockout."

NBA commissioner David Stern, however, told Newsday that Stoudemire's accusation is "contrary to every fact."

Added Stern, "And I've been in every bargaining session and every internal meeting. Nothing could be further from the truth, and although I've seen it written, including what this newspaper is about to do, I've never seen any reliable source that could possibly confirm it, because there is no source."

Throughout the lockout, many media outlets have painted Sarver as a "hawk" who has pushed for a salary cap. In the years after Sarver took over majority ownership in 2004, the Suns were a high-payroll team that was, for several years, over the luxury-tax threshold. But after letting Stoudemire go as a free agent to the Knicks last summer -- Sarver refused to guarantee the final two years of a five-year deal, which the Knicks did -- the franchise appears to be heading in a different direction.

"It wouldn't be that big of a deal if he just re-signed some kid name Stoudemire," Amar'e said with a smile and a wink. "Then he would have been in good shape. Obviously he made a bad decision."

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Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony do not believe that their current team's owner, James Dolan, is among the hard-liners who would accept losing an entire season. "I think he's ready to get this thing done," Stoudemire said of Dolan, who already has endured a lost season with the Rangers during the NHL lockout of 2004-05.

Anthony's previous team, the Denver Nuggets, didn't want to let him go, but they were forced to when he turned down a contract extension with the ability to opt into free agency after last season. Anthony doesn't believe Nuggets owners Stan and Josh Kroenke are among the hard-liners or want to endure a lost season. Like Dolan, the Kroenkes, who also own the Colorado Avalanche, already have lived through a lost season.

"I was there with them for that," said Anthony, who is in the planning stages of a star-studded charity game in New York in mid-November. "We talked a lot about it while it was going on. That was a very tough time for them."

The Dolan family owns controlling interest in the Knicks, MSG and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.


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