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Stoudemire ready to help Knicks -- with or without LeBron

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire Photo Credit: AP

The King will speak Thursday night, but for the afternoon at least, The World's Most Famous Arena became STAT City.

A mere nine hours before LeBron James was scheduled to announce from Greenwich, Conn., where he'll play next season, the Knicks turned their attention away from LeBron-a-palooza to welcome Amar'e Stoudemire with a half-hour press conference at Madison Square Garden.

The video screen below the suite level showed the five-time All Star in his new No. 1 Knicks jersey and welcomed everyone to "STAT City," which is Stoudemire's self-proclaimed acronym nickname that stands for "Standing Tall And Talented."

At 6-10, the 27-year-old power forward certainly stands tall. But can his talent show on a team that went 29-53 last season when he, thus far, is the lone addition?

"We're starting a new era here with the Knicks in trying to get back to the top," said Stoudemire, who agreed to a five-year deal worth $99.7 million on Monday. The deal couldn't be officially announced until Thursday, when the NBA's moratorium on signings and trades was lifted.

The Knicks and the Suns will complete a sign-and-trade deal to get Stoudemire on the team. Happy Waters, Stoudemire's agent, said the Knicks sent a trade exception and a draft pick to the Suns to complete the deal. The trade exception is believed to be worth about $16.5 million and the draft pick would be a second-rounder.

"We're really looking forward to building this franchise and winning a championship," Stoudemire said.

Stoudemire couldn't deliver a title in Phoenix, though he, Steve Nash and company did lead the Suns to a pair of Western Conference Finals, including one under current Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni in the 2004-05 season.

The two clashed at times in Phoenix, but they ironed out any lingering issues over breakfast this past weekend, and D'Antoni seemed thrilled to have Stoudemire back in his fold earlier Thursday.

"I do know that New York is probably not for everybody," D'Antoni said. "It's a big stage, and you have to show some guts and grit, and you've gotta come everyday to work, and Amar'e will do that."

D'Antoni then turned to Stoudemire and said: "Let's see if you can win me as many games here as you did in Phoenix."

A playoff appearance would be a big step for a team that has missed the playoffs the last six seasons. The Knicks fan base has been waiting for this day since Donnie Walsh and D'Antoni arrived two years ago.

Said Walsh: "Up until now our plan has been to save money under the cap, and now it's about putting together a team that can win."

Winning would seemingly come easy with Stoudemire paired up with a superstar guard like James, akin to what Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will have in Miami.

Stoudemire said he hadn't spoken to James Thursday, but he did reach out to him on Twitter around 7 p.m. Wednesday night, saying, "@kingjames come join me in NY, we can do something really special. 'Oh let's do it'!!"

However, the speculation surrounding James' decision, which will be aired Thursday night on an hour-long ESPN special appropriately titled "The Decision," is that he will join Wade and Bosh in Miami.

"The biggest challenge now is to try to build a team," Stoudemire said. "Right now, it's to try and get free agents to join us."

Added D'Antoni: "We got Amar'e, which is one out of five or whatever [big-name free agents] that were available. And we'll get others. We have a plan, and that plan is right on track. We took a big step with Amar'e and we'll take another big step, whether that's today, whether that's tomorrow, or whether that's six months from now."

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