Amar’e Stoudemire (211 cm) signed a one-day contract with the New York Knicks earlier this week and then announced his retirement from the NBA after 14 seasons. There was an outpouring of sentiments of respect and well-wishes from various NBA players and coaches after Stoudemire’s announcement. The six-time All-Star was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the first round (9th overall) in the 2002 NBA Draft. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2002-03 and went on to play four more seasons for the Suns.
In 2010 Stoudemire signed on to play for the New York Knicks, but his four seasons with the East Coast club saw him plagued with various injuries. Still, the big man was welcomed by Knicks fans and earned their support and admiration. He helped buoy their hopes of a fresh start during the dark days when the franchise was lost in a labyrinth of poor roster moves.
His choice to retire with the Knicks did raise some eyebrows considering some of the best years of his career were with Phoenix. In a recent statement, Amar’e opened up that he preferred to have retired with the Suns, but the team was not interested in signing him.
“The last two years, we made phone calls to Phoenix but I wasn’t getting any positive response,” Stoudemire told azcentral sports on Thursday. “That would’ve been the perfect way to go out. I didn’t want to beg Phoenix. My heart was in two places – Phoenix and New York. I just went where I was wanted.”
At the end of the day, the awkward situation opened the door for him to end his career with a team that once showed him acceptance and respect. The Suns recently added some of Stoudemire’s old teammates from his heyday with the club and he had hoped to reunite with them just before retiring.
“They brought back Jared and Leandro, my boys,” Stoudemire said. “That would’ve been a heck of a way to finish. I wasn’t just going to keep knocking on someone’s door that wasn’t going to answer.
“I love my fans in Phoenix. Most of my high times and highlights were in Phoenix. I put forth the effort to finish my career in Phoenix but it wasn’t well-received.”