Amar'e Stoudemire is in New York because Amar'e Stoudemire wants to be in New York: No Isiah Thomas required.
The Knicks' new power forward was on hand at last night's Liberty game and said that Thomas' influence did "not necessarily" have any effect on his decision to sign with the team.
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"I'm not too familiar with the situation right now with Isiah Thomas," Stoudemire said during halftime of the Liberty's 107-69 victory over the Mercury. "All I know is that he's a good friend . . . I wanted to come to New York . . . It really had nothing to do with anything else."
The Knicks fired Thomas in April 2008. In 41/2 years as team president and then coach, the Knicks never won more than 39 games. In 2006, he and the Garden were accused in a sexual harassment case filed by former Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders. In 2007, she was awarded $11.6 million in damages.
The hiring had no shortage of dissenters but, despite this, Thomas' greatest draw was his ability to attract talent. He worked as a recruiter and was heavily involved in the Knicks' thwarted efforts to woo LeBron James and, the team said, was an integral part of the Stoudemire signing.
A joint statement issued by owner James Dolan and president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh at the time of the hiring said "Isiah was helpful to the team's senior management during our most recent recruitment efforts, including assisting with the acquisition of Amar'e Stoudemire."
After the LeBron saga, the Stoudemire signing remains one of the Knicks' offseason gems. The power forward, who Saturday said that he would also play small forward and center, signed a five-year contract in July worth nearly $100 million.
Stoudemire has garnered favorable comparisons to the Heat's Chris Bosh, but said Saturday that he was his own man. "I don't think it's a good comparison," he said, but didn't elaborate much. "I don't want to downgrade anyone."
What Stoudemire doesn't have is the luxury of guys such as LeBron and Dwyane Wade. New York basketball fans, at least, seem to be grateful for his presence - his face on the Garden screen garnered some of the biggest cheers of the night.
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