Even before Amar'e Stoudemire stunned us with his bombshell dismissal of Tracy McGrady, which you can read about here, he had already taken a few subtle shots at his fellow Polk County (Fla.) resident when he talked about McGrady's attempt to come back from the same microfracture surgery that Stoudemire endured earlier in his career.
Stoudemire almost seemed to suggest that McGrady didn't have it in him to do the necessary work to recover from that type of injury.
"You have to work out extremely hard and constantly," Stoudemire said. "You have to really discipline yourself. That's an attribute that a lot of folks don't have. I've been blessed to have it."
Stoudemire then mentioned the arduous recovery he endured last year to come back from a career-threatening eye injury. "I had to lie face-down, 22 hours a day for 10 straight days," he said of the required post-op rehabilitation. "That's discipline."
Discipline. We're talking about a guy who goes on vegan fasts between games. One of the most impressive physical specimens in the NBA (I could do P90X for five straight years and never look as good as this man) lost 20 pounds since last year and looks back to being his freakishly explosive self from before.
"Maybe better," Mike D'Antoni noted.
So, yes, it does take some serious work to come back from this injury. Hasn't McGrady put in the same kind of work?
"Hopefully he will continue to improve," Stoudemire said coldly, "get better and heal up and have a good second half of his career."
Yes, that's when he made it clear: "I'm not a big Tracy McGrady fan." And then told the story about how, as a high school player, he went up to McGrady, then with the Magic, at a high school football game in Florida and asked him advice about making the jump from high school to the NBA. McGrady apparently blew him off.
Tracy looked stunned when the story was relayed to him.
"I've never even went to any high school football games," he said.
The story surprised him so much, McGrady regularly suggested that Amar'e "is [-------] with y'all."
But as he left the court after his pregame workout, Amar'e made it clear he wasn't joking around.
McGrady slapped hands with Stoudemire just before the tip-off and, with a smile mouthed to him something along the lines of, "Why are you talking some bull[----]?" Stoudemire seemed to grin a little, but didn't say anything.
He then put up 18 points (12-for-15 from the line) and 9 rebounds in 26:58.
McGrady had an extremely quiet game in 29:11 (5 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) and asked out early in the third quarter because he didn't feel loose. He went into the back and rode the stationary bike to warm up his legs and returned to the game.
McGrady's presence won't hurt the Knicks' chances to sign Stoudemire this summer, however. "I can be teammates with anybody," Amar'e said. "Really not that big of a deal. We, us both being successful in the league, he has respect for me and my respect for him is still somewhat there. So I definitely can play with him."
Amar'e, I think you just did.
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Our old buddy K-Berg has an interesting report on CBSSports.com about a theory that Kobe Bryant views the Knicks as his only Plan B if things don't come together as he wants them to with the Lakers. All due respect to K-Berg, but I wouldn't waste a lot of energy on this scenario.
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If the Knicks were still in a playoff chase, this five-game West Coast road trip would look like a killer. But with nothing to play for aside from mere requirement, 10 days on the coast to some pretty cool cities -- San Francisco, LA, with a two day break between games here in sunny Phoenix -- could be a lot of fun.
Spring Break? No, call it the 2010 Farewell Tour. Only with that kind of attitude, as evidenced by Friday's 36-point blowout loss to the Suns, they're not likely to fare well.
"If I thought we had bad guys, I'd worry about it," Mike D'Antoni said of the potential for these last 10 games to be stamped and dropped in the mail box. "But we have good guys. They'll bounce back. They understood they messed up."
"I don't worry about them laying down," he added. "They'll bounce back."
The embarrassment here against the Suns had to do with a lack of energy from the Knick reserves, who were wholly outplayed by a Suns bench that scored 66 points and started the blowout going with a 30-19 second quarter. Alvin Gentry used a lineup of players such as Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Goran Dragic, Leandro Barbosa and Lou Amundsen to build a 15-point lead which grew to 64-48 by halftime. It was over early in the third quarter.
The biggest issue for the Knicks was shooting (38.3 percent) and size (outrebounded 56-38), but mainly hustle and determination. Rookie Toney Douglas struggled throughout the game with his shooting (2-for-11, 1-5 from 3PT) and it clearly impacted the rest of his performance. He wasn't nearly as aggressive defensively as we've seen him and looked overwhelmed. When Sergio Rodriguez was inserted into the game, he didn't do much to get the sputtering offense under control, either.
" When you don't have the head out there going well," D'Antoni said of the point guard position, "you struggle."
Douglas wasn't the only young player who had a tough night. J.R. Giddens looked lost several times in transition and got an earful from D'Antoni for not hustling back. Eddie House made his return to the lineup after missing four games with a sore Achilles and had three turnovers. He clearly is not a player who can play any kind of minutes at the point guard position, though he was out there in that role a few times in the third quarter.
Danilo Gallinari looked like he was feeling it early, with nine points in the first quarter, but he finished with 16 and missed six of his seven attempts from three-point range.