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MIAMI — The season was careening off the cliff anyway, spinning into the abyss thanks to a lost weekend in this rainy nook of South Florida.
The Heat had spent a second straight game doing whatever it pleased, offensively and defensively, the only difference between this 104-94 Game 2 victory and Saturday’s 100-67 gutting the Heat’s inability to run away and hide.
So the Knicks were already coming home to a Madison Square Garden that wasn’t going to be half as alive, half as hopeful, as it had been last year. Then, the Knicks had gone 0-for-2 in Boston but easily could have come back 1-1 or even 2-0. The sweep that followed was almost surprising.
The one that’s coming will be significantly less so.
It was bad enough that Stoudemire for a second straight game had been a non-factor, his 18 points and seven rebounds an empty and unsatisfying answer to the Heat. It was only after the game was over and the teams filed back to the locker rooms that Stoudemire decided to make his presence felt.
Only instead of a basket, and instead of a Heat basketball player, he decided to post up a glass case protecting a fire extinguisher outside the Knicks’ dressing room.
The glass won.
“Sometimes,” Carmelo Anthony would say, “it seems like we’re snake-bit a little.”
No. This isn’t bad luck. This is bad judgment.
Stoudemire was frustrated by the way the Heat has manhandled the Knicks? He’s upset he doesn’t see the ball much when Melo is running the show? He’s unhappy about something known only to him? He’s entitled to his feelings.
If he wants to go and curse a blue streak in the showers, he can scream himself hoarse. Mad at Melo? Yell at Melo. Mad at the Heat?
Well, playing worth a damn might help his mood.
Throwing a left cross at a pane of glass? That’s idiocy. Yet that’s what Stoudemire — the Knicks’ self-professed soul, their leader — did. He wound up gushing blood and needing stitches, getting his left hand bandaged up and leaving the arena with his arm in a sling.
Yeah. The season was a goner anyway, the idea of the Knicks winning four out of five from the Heat an absurd notion. In the moments before the final buzzer and the second just after maybe you could still harbor hope that at least the Knicks could end a postseason drought that now extends 12 games across 11 years and two days.
Now even that seems a little far-fetched.
And Stoudemire, officially, has entered a special realm of New York athlete: The knucklehead who doesn’t realize that the $100 million investment the Knicks made in him is supposed to go both ways. Stoudemire’s body doesn’t need any help betraying him, it does just fine all by itself.
In his first splendid, inspired moment in town, Stoudemire had gleefully declared, “The Knicks are back!”
Now, with one mindless, thoughtless, brainless act of emotion, he has essentially declared, “The Knicks are dead!”
It is a brutal legacy to leave.
It’s a horrid final twist in this season that has been rife with so many storylines, so many tales of redemption, so many moments when the Knicks held off the hangman and reclaimed their season.
The Knicks would make no statements about Stoudemire’s status, and neither did he as he was hustled off to the bus. It’s his non-shooting hand, so, sure, it’s possible he could play, possible we might see him again.
But you have to wonder what New York’s reaction is going to be now that he’s entered a rogue’s gallery of self-inflicted fools like Kevin Brown and A.J. Burnett. To name two.
“It’s tough,” Tyson Chandler, another emotional guy who manages to take his energy out on opponents and referees. “Your emotions run high. Split-second decisions can obviously alter things and you can’t fault anybody.”
It’s good that Chandler was trying to be a good teammate. It would have been better if Stoudemire had been one. You’re mad at the way you’re playing? Play better. Don’t try to turn a glass container into Earnie Shavers’ jaw. You might turn your own hand into Alpo. Bad trade. Bad decision.
Knicks, Stoudemire, Stoudemire, the Heat, far-fetched.And Stoudemire