December 15, 2010 | 11:07am
We were as frustrated at times as almost everyone else with Amar'e Stoudemire, whose mercurial career with the Phoenix Suns ended after seven seasons last June when he signed a mammoth deal with the New York Knicks.
His lack of defensive prowess, inability to crash the boards consistently, and other apparent shortcomings occasionally drove us crazy.
But the guy, a perennial All-Star, obviously did some remarkable things on the basketball court that helped the Suns win a bunch of games.
It didn't hurt that he had one of the greatest point guards of all time, one Steve Nash, working with him.
Amar'e's leap to the Big Apple wasn't completely unexpected.
He apparently felt "disrespected" by Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, and hungered for the true superstar status that has eluded him for one reason or another-- injuries, lack of championships.
The $100 million contract he signed with New York certainly didn't hurt matters.
We have watched with interest as the NBA season has gotten under way, wondering how the big guy will fare in a far-tougher place to play than Phoenix, and with a team that has been one of the league's lesser lights for years.
Mind you, the Knicks schedule has been soft to this point, but, Amar'e has been running wild, scoring and rebounding with both the abandon and superior skill sets that we always appreciated even when we were pissed at him.
He's scored 30 or more points in eight straight games (a team record), and New York has won each time, which makes the Knicks the NBA's early-season surprise (and must make league commissioner David Stern a happy man).
We think back to last summer, when Amar'e traveled to Israel to explore what he called his "Hebrew" roots.
The trip included a visit to Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, where God is said to answer special prayers that visitors jot down on a slip of paper, or just think to themselves.
Don't know what Amar'e did, but he's playing like a man possessed so far.
New York's next two games may tell a lot about how far his new team truly has moved forward.
Tonight, the 16-9 Knicks host one of the league's best, the 19-4 Boston Celtics, in a game that will televised nationally on ESPN starting at 5 p.m. our time.
We hope to catch the second half of that one after work.
Then, on Friday, New York hosts the suddenly hot Miami Heat in another nationally televised game.
Oh, almost forgot.
The Suns, who currently are languishing with an 11-12 mark and showing few signs of winding up better than a .500 team, take on the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves tonight in a home game scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff on KSAZ-TV.