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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NBA REPORT

Stoudemire's move not too smooth


NEW YORK — In case of ire, break glass.

Last season at exactly this stage of the Knicks' playoff plight, Amare Stoudemire injured his back by childishly doing chin-ups on the rim during warmups, guaranteeing the Celtics' a clean sweep.

For a morbid encore, Amare slashed his left hand moments after the Heat had hosed the Knicks for the second straight time, taking out his "frustration" on an unflinching glass fire extinguisher case.

Paramedics were called. Stitches were required. Inevitability coagulated. And Amare returned to New York on the team charter with his arm and self-respect in a sling already housing his game.

This would not have happened had one reporter pretended to care and asked Amare if he wanted Mike Woodson back as coach.

This is what happens when a lustrous centerfold becomes second choice and common sense turns to spit on a shingle.

"Bad enough to lose it during a game, but after?" emails column contributor Mike Lione in stupefaction. "The 'bow to James Harden's head by Mental Ward, Please was dumb. Rajon Rondo's referee rush was dumber. Now this! Who's responsible for signing these guys out of Stupidity Anonymous?"

Do not even try to tell me Stoudemire's froth was triggered by his team's 2-0 deficit, or last night's never-in-doubt 104-94 disorder, or its 33-point submission in the series opener.

You don't lose complete control because a superior team dominates yours twice.

You go off because pre-Carmelo Anthony you were hailed by Madison Square Garden chants as "MVP . . . MVP" and now you're an offensive afterthought, even when seemingly healthy enough (following a prolonged rehab from a bulging disk) to play an entire game.

Even when Amare gets daylight befitting a star, as he did last night, 41 minutes, and puts up relatively solid numbers (18 points and seven rebounds), he's no longer intimately involved.

Melo, who automatically was given top billing and the green light the moment he arrived in a trade from Denver, launched a profane 11 shots in the first quarter — good for 15 of his final 30 points on 26 attempts. In Game I, he began an unsightly 0-for-7.

My cats throw up more pleasing hair balls than those dry heaves.

At the same time, Amare touched the ball enough in Game 2 to hoist nine shots. Both Stoudemire and Anthony went to the line nine times and made six.

It has reached the point where opponents not only don't have to double Amare, they cheat off him beside because he so seldom sniffs leather

Why go out and guard him?

All they need to do is meet him at the rim!

It has reached the point where critics claim Davis is closer to being The Baron of Basketball than Amare is to being Stat.

It has reached the point where normally clear-headed people are predicting the Knicks might win a game now because of a fire extinguisher!

No wonder Amare came unhinged. Somewhat suddenly he has become A Nowhere Man in a Nowhere Land . . . a nonentity at macho forward who tries to stay out of the way of Melo and Tyson Chandler, and a fill-in at center when Chandler needs a blow.

Truth be told, if I were being devalued and disrespected to that degree, I would have gone strong to the glass long before Amare did.

Somewhere Mike D'Antoni is beaming.

Rondo's ejection from Game 1 of the Celtics-Hawks series for taking in vain the name of Marc Davis and subsequent one-game suspension for Game 2 for doing the bump with the supercilious referee, took me back to April 9, 1996, when Nick Van Exel — currently on Atlanta's coaching staff — pushed Ronnie Garretson onto the scorer's table . . . and over it.

For his trouble, the Lakers' pack leader was docked seven games and fined $25,000. Magic Johnson, back on active duty (32 games) after four years in retirement due to (HIV-positive) illness, lauded the league and then VP of Violence Rod Thorn for his decision.

Sermonized Magic: "Nick is gonna have to learn from that."

All of five days later, guess who manhandled whistle blower Scott Foster, on national TV, no less, and earned three games off without pay, plus a $10,000 fine?

You have to give ABC/ESPN credit. Once again, the nitworks have that certain someone on the payroll who's overly qualified to speak out of both sides of his mouth on such a newsworthy (see Dwight Howard's failed coup d'etat of coach Stan Van Gundy) subject.

I wasn't vaguely convinced it was a lounge act when Chandler's silent-and-violent pick (that earned him a flagrant one foul) purportedly sent LeBron flip-floppin' like a Mitt Romney position paper.

In fact, if I was Dean of Discipline Stu Jackson, I would have upgraded the dangerous forward's moving mugging to a flagrant two. I deemed it dirty, malicious, vindictive and premeditated.

Had Chandler hit LeBron a little higher and a litter harder he could've damaged him the same way Metta World War damaged James Harden.

Numerous readers, not necessarily just Knicks fan, ahem, heatedly disagreed. Several of them claimed flopping has become standard operating procedure for LeBron, alleging two previous embellishments regarding contact with Chandler and J.R. Smith.

They were so passionate I felt obliged to reach out to those getting paid to recognize such routines, you know, real NBA refs with valued objectivity. Their consensus opinion knocked me off my swivel chair, no play acting.

"It's very unusual for a superstar to flop," one zebra said. "Not only does LeBron do it, he's the worst offender of any superstar I've ever seen."

Peter Vecsey cover the NBA for the New York Post.


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