Amar'e Stoudemire could be back for the Knicks as soon...

Amar'e Stoudemire could be back for the Knicks as soon as Wednesday. (March 13, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Wearing a skin-tight shirt that read "Beast" across the front and "Stoudemire'' across the back, Amar'e Stoudemire walked into the media room at the Knicks' training center Thursday and declared that he feels "stronger than ever before."

He may have missed a paycheck or two, but it turns out that the lockout has been a very good thing for Stoudemire, 29. It gave him extra time to get into peak condition.

Last season ended painfully for the power forward, who pulled a back muscle while dunking the ball in warm-ups before Game 2 of the Knicks-Celtics first-round playoff series. With Stoudemire in severe pain, the Knicks were swept by Boston.

"I think now everything is 100 percent," he said when asked about his back. "I feel great."

Stoudemire -- one of 11 Knicks who participated in the team's voluntary workout -- spent the summer and fall working out at Florida International University, where former Knicks president and coach Isiah Thomas is the basketball coach.

"It's been a long offseason and a lot of the guys look great and have been taking care of their bodies," he said. "It was a blessing in disguise for me to have some time off and continue to heal . . . I actually grew a half-inch. I'm 6-foot-11 now with my shoes on because of my posture. I'm 260 because of my body fat. I feel like a beast."

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access