Amare Stoudemire spent the summer working on his game. Now it will be deep into winter before he gets to show his advances.
A knee injury first thought to sideline him for three weeks will actually keep him sidelined up to the season’s first six weeks after he re-injured his surgically repaired left knee, according to league sources.The news comes as a blow to the Knicks, who are looking to hold a grip on supremacy now that the Nets have moved to Brooklyn.
But Stoudimire’s ruptured a popliteal cyst behind the knee, suffered during the Knicks’ exhibition game against Toronto on Oct. 19, is worst than first thought after a second opinion from Dr. Thomas Carter, the Phoenix Suns’ team physician. Carter determined he would need more time to heal. Stoudemire went to Carter because he performed microfracture surgery on Stoudemire’s left knee in 2005.
It is not clear whether Stoudemire will use the extra time off to have a procedure or for rest and rehab.
Stoudemire may be out between 6-8 weeks, according to two of the sources. But his knee problems are no surprise to many league officials. When he was a free agent in 2010, his history of knee injuries scared off most teams and only the Knicks were willing to offer him a five-year, $100 million contract. Because of the condition of his knees, the contract is uninsured.
It’s devastating for Stoudemire, who was committed to coming back in a big way this season. He spent two sessions with Hall of Fame big man Hakeem Olajuwon to work on his low-post game. Coach Mike Woodson solicited Olajuwon, one of all-time best players, especially in the low post, to work for several days with Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby at their Greenburgh, N.Y. practice facility.
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Olajuwon also worked out Stoudemire earlier this summer, training the Knicks center for two-and-a-half weeks in the gymnasium on his 400-acre ranch outside of Houston. Olajuwon, who was able to excel alongside superstar teammates Ralph Sampson and Clyde Drexler, said there’s no reason Stoudemire and Anthony can’t have similar success playing side-by-side.
“They both have to realize that the most important thing is not how great you are individually,” Olajuwon said to ESPNNewYork.com. “You’re remembered for how many games you win. So to get to play with another great offensive player should help you. It should make your job easier. You have to work well together. You can’t be competitors with one another.”
While Olajuwon has taught Stoudemire back-to-the-basket post moves, he said the Knicks’ game plan should not be simply to post up Stoudemire while Anthony dominates the perimeter.
Now, it will take much longer for Stoudemire to show what he learned.