Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, the crowd chanted for a MVP.
And they weren't talking about Kobe Bryant, who was notably the last player to receive the MVP chant at The World's Most Famous Arena.
After being shut out of the LeBron James sweepstakes this summer, the Knicks landed just one of the numerous prized free agents available. It wasn't Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or Joe Johnson -- the top players on the market after LeBron, according to many. Instead, the Knicks landed power forward Amare Stoudemire.
Less than a month ago, the Garden faithful booed the Knicks off the court following a loss to a Houston team that played without starters Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming. After that game, Stoudemire called out his team for lacking a sense of "urgency," but the Knicks proceeded to lose their next game in Denver and were mired in a six-game losing streak. The next night, down 13 points to the Kings after the first quarter, the Knicks found their shooting stroke and outscored Sacramento 99-79 over the final three quarters for the win. It was the turnaround victory the Knicks were looking for, and at the forefront of the movement was Stoudemire, who scored 27 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked two shots in the victory.
Dating back to their loss to the Nuggets on Nov. 16, the Knicks have won 11 of their past 12 games, gone a perfect 7-0 on the road during that span, and are 5-0 on the second night of back-to-back games played on consecutive days. The Knicks have the most wins in the NBA on the second night of back-to-backs this season (6-2).
Since calling out the team, Stoudemire hasn't said much, but his play on the court speaks volumes. The man nicknamed "S.T.A.T." (Standing Tall And Talented) has won two NBA Player of the Week awards, and scored at least 30 points in six straight games -- that's one shy of the Knicks franchise record set by Willie Naulls in 1962. Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1970, only three players have more 30-point, 10-rebound games with a team over the first 24 games of a season than Stoudemire with six (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley).
The buzz in the Garden is back, and at 14-9 the Knicks are five games over .500 for the first time in a decade. After Friday's game against the Wizards, 13 of the Knicks' next 14 games are against teams that made the postseason last season.
With a quarter of the season played, Amare Stoudemire and the new-look Knicks have given New York fans hope, and something to cheer about.
FROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU:
Most 30-point, 10-rebound games in first 24 games with a team, since 1970-71:
'75-76 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lakers: 10
'86-87 Moses Malone, Bullets: 9
'92-93 Charles Barkley, Suns: 8
'10-11 Amare Stoudemire, Knicks: 6*
'71-72 Sidney Wicks, Trail Blazers: 6
'77-78 Adrian Dantley, Pacers: 6*
'93-94 Dominique Wilkins, Clippers" 6
* Played 23 games with team