NEW YORK -- In October, Amar'e Stoudemire sparked a flurry of "WTHs" across social media with a bizarre selfie, snapped as he soaked in a bathtub full of red wine. Recently, I joined the Knicks center at Aire Ancient Baths in New York to get to the bottom of the story and, as it turned out, the aforementioned tub.
7:28pm: The six-time All-Star strolls into the spa's candle-lit wine bath room and drops his white, fluffy robe. "Romantic, right?" he says with a sheepish grin. "Now you know my secret." His secret: vinotherapy, his off-day recovery ritual for the past 10 months.
7:30: His 40-minute session begins. "A glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away," he says as he plunges neck deep into a tub of the Spanish red Matarromera Crianza. Mixed with Antioxidant Red Grape Bath, heated to 98 degrees and gurgled with spa jets, the treatment purportedly detoxifies the body, stimulates blood flow and spruces the skin -- not a bad Rx for a 32-year-old baller with a well-documented injury history.
7:34: But how does it feel? "Why don't you come in and try it?" he offers. Ya think? "You're only 5 feet tall," he says, "so there's plenty of room." (Whoa, pal -- it's 5-7½!)
7:35: I peel off my work attire and join a 6-10, 245-pound man in a bathtub of hot booze. His advice: "Free your mind and enjoy the universe." That'd be easier to do if our feet weren't touching.
7:37: "Feels good, right?" Hmm, it feels ... like money -- up to $550 per 30-minute dip. Says the $23 million man: "I was hoping you got half on it." Note to self: Request a raise.
7:39: OK, so many questions: Has he tasted his bath-wine? "Um, no." Where did he hear about this? "There's a circle of us rich people who talk about what rich people do," he quips. What do his teammates think? "I got jokes for days." Which Knick stands to gain the most from a dip? "Carmelo -- he's been banged up." Who's most likely to drink his own bath-booze? "Cole Aldrich, the guy with the missing tooth!"
7:43: Timeout! Red wine stains, and I'm white like J.J. Redick's rump. Will I leave this tub with purple skin? "I wouldn't worry about it," says Stoudemire.
7:44: The married father of four says his tub time nourishes the mind and soul as much as the body, just another stop on the road to self-fulfillment that has taken him as far as Jerusalem with plenty of pit stops for simple pleasures. "Just pulling out a book at the park is a joy for me," he says.
7:46: Oh, just two dudes in a tub getting deep about Stoudemire's friend Taylor Swift. "She has such great energy," he says. And his boss, Phil Jackson: "He rolls with the universe." And his spirituality: "I'm a Hebrew, and I'm following everything that's in the scriptures to its fullest." And his goals: "To express my destiny." And the quirky drum beat to which he admittedly dances: "The best way to live your life is to look yourself in the mirror, understand who you are, and be yourself. Everything will just flow from there."
7:53: Hey, since we're getting deep: Was his increasingly faux-furry wardrobe inspired by the costumes in "Coming to America"? "I'm definitely not going after the Eddie Murphy look," he assures me. "It's extremely cold here in New York and it does require fur sometimes."
7:55: The fashion designer, cookbook author, movie producer and "MacGruber" cast member pitches a new side project: "We should do a weekly talk show -- 'In The Tub with Amar'e!' Tonight is Episode 1." I'm not sure I'd watch this episode.
7:57: Stoudemire's cheeriness and zest for life are as intoxicating as our bath water, but I suppose I should ask him about his terrible team. "Honestly, it's been maybe the hardest year of my career," he says. "It requires a lot of mental strength and integrity as far as teaching the young guys how to win, how to play. But at the same time, you have fun because you have the greatest job in the world. So, there's a gift and a curse with it."
8:00: We have 10 minutes to go in this steaming vat of booze and already I'm feeling nauseated -- or maybe that's because we're still talking about the Knicks. "Recently, we've been playing solid basketball," he says, though it's possible he's drunk.
8:01: On whether he'll seek a buyout of his expiring, five-year, $99.7 million contract if the cellar-dwelling Knicks don't trade him first: "Well, that's an option. But I'm not a guy who runs away when things are bad. We win together, we lose together." Wait, when did the first thing happen?
8:03: How would he characterize his legacy in New York if his Knicks tenure were to end tomorrow? "My first year was phenomenal -- I was an MVP candidate. But I knew we needed another piece, so that's when me and Carmelo Anthony, one of my good friends, decided to team up. From that standpoint, if you listened to those STAT and Melo chants -- we grew as a franchise. The Knicks were becoming a worldwide name and everyone was starting to love us again. So, as far as my legacy in New York, I will always be cherished for that."
8:06: We're talking about his spectacular facial of Anderson Varejao in December. "Oh, I know I still got it," he says. "When I'm healthy, I'm an All-Star, no doubt about it." Despite missing time with a variety of injuries, Stoudemire's numbers are up almost across the board from his previous campaign and his resurgence has led to rumors that a contender like the Mavericks could grab him should the Knicks set him free. Maybe there's something to this wine bath, after all?
8:08: While he hopes to wring three or four more seasons out of his body, Stoudemire says, "the future beyond basketball looks bright." The budding film producer, whose first studio feature, "Beyond the Lights," is an Oscar nominee for Best Original Song, feels Hollywood is one likely landing place. Could Springfield be another? "Yeah, I've thought about it," he says of his Hall of Fame candidacy. "With the combination of the glory years in Phoenix with Steve Nash, being here in N.Y., and solid career numbers, I think there's a chance I could get into the Hall of Fame."
8:10pm: Time! Now off the clock, we pour two glasses of Matarromera Crianza -- the clean stuff, not the bath stuff. How about a toast? "Absolutely," Stoudemire says as he raises his glass. "To the strangest interview I've ever done, by far." Cheers, pal. And right back at ya.