GREENBURGH, N.Y. - There were nights Amar'e Stoudemire knew he couldn't do it alone.
His on-court leadership and point totals usually were enough to win some games for the Knicks, but in the back of his mind he knew something was missing.
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Stoudemire finally got that missing piece Monday night in the form of Carmelo Anthony, a friend he's known since his high school days and a competitor he's watched develop into a Top 10 scorer in the league. Though Anthony's arrival won't magically transform the Knicks into a championship-caliber team like the Celtics, the Lakers, or the Heat, the Knicks are without question a better team now, Stoudemire said. And even though the loss of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov stings, the prize ultimately was worth it, he admitted.
"Those guys were a part of the start of a new era with Knicks basketball so I just hope that those guys stay focused and continue to work hard for whatever team they play for," Stoudemire said of his former teammates, who were traded to the Nuggets in exchange for Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter and a 2014 first-round pick.
"With those guys, you tend to love them as family members so it's always hard to see them go. On the flip side of that, I think we've gotten better."
In Anthony, the Knicks get a versatile scorer who not only can play the three and four-spot, but who also thrives under pressure.
"That's what he wants," he said of Melo. "That's what I wanted - to come to New York, play on the big stage. He has that same type of swag. This is what he wants and he can handle it."
Their coexistence may result in less touches per game for each player, but Stoudemire (26.1 ppg) believes he and Anthony (25.2 ppg) will be compatible.
"Every team needs a 1, 1-A punch," Stoudemire said. " . . . He scores in many ways from the wing, I score in many ways from the wing and the post. We're very versatile so it's hard to guard us. . . And again, you can't leave out the rest of the guys because Landry [Fields] is an ultimate pro, Chauncey is going to help us a lot. Ronny [Turiaf] is the ultimate energy guy, so we've got a pretty solid team. And it's not over yet. We're not sure how it's going to play out before the deadline's over, but right now we're very confident and we like our chances."
It was the Celtics who first planted the seed of big-name player packages when they traded for Kevin Garnett after landing Ray Allen. The Lakers and Miami Heat soon followed suit. Now, it's the Knicks' turn. But Stoudemire believes it was his decision to come to the Big Apple that set yesterday's blockbuster trade in motion.
"That pretty much opened the eyes for the rest of the basketball world to say, 'New York is a place where I would go now,'" he said.
Stoudemire said he met Anthony when he was 16 or 17, back when the two were starring in the McDonald's All-American Game and the Jordan Capital Classic.
"We kind of grew up in the same era and took the league by storm as young athletes," said Stoudemire, who said he spoke briefly to Anthony Tuesday morning. "So to team up with him now on a bigger stage here in New York, is something special. It's going to be great. It's going to be fun."
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