Last season marked what can certainly be considered a successful debut for Amare Stoudemire in a Knicks uniform. He averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, was named an All-Star starter for the East, and helped lead New York to its first playoff appearance in seven years.
Unfortunately for both Stoudemire and the Knicks, his second season in Gotham is very much in doubt, as the NBA lockout drags on and threatens the very existence of a 2011-12 campaign for all 30 teams. League commissioner David Stern recently canceled the first two weeks of the season, and has professed to being on the brink of canceling all action through the vital Christmas Day games as well.
So what is Stoudemire's frame of mind during all of this lockout turbulence? Does he really think it's time for the players to start their own league? And how has he been spending his time away from organized hoops? Huffington Post Sports recently caught up to the Knicks star at an event in Manhattan where he was helping to promote the new Activision video game, "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure", a kids' game that Stoudemire describes as "a phenomenal game, in that it brings actual toys to a video game module, which is pretty unique."
Read on to get Stoudemire's thoughts on the lockout and the basketball landscape in general.
HuffPost Sports: During the NBA lockout, why should the fans side with the players over the owners?
Amare Stoudemire: We're not in a debate about whether the fans should decide or not. We're in a debate about whether we get a season or not. We're trying to figure out the start of the season, and we're trying to get a deal done with the owners.
HuffPost Sports: Personally, what is your biggest sticking point with the owners' stance at this point?
Stoudemire: Obviously, we know the (revenue) percentages are not what we both agree on. That's where the argument lies.
HuffPost Sports: With things as difficult as they are now with the U.S. economy in general, do the players worry about the perception of how your stance might come across?
Stoudemire: No, the fans understand what we're ultimately after. We're trying to improve NBA basketball. And by any other standards, we don't want the game to be diluted, so we want to make sure that competition is at an all-time high and that guys are competing for an NBA championship. The fans will love that even more, if they see guys really playing for a team, as opposed to individual stats.
HuffPost Sports: David Stern has talked about canceling Christmas Day games. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Stoudemire: David Stern (has talked about) canceling the first two weeks of the season, Christmas games, and also being locked out for a year or two. So again, that's totally out of our control. We're just trying to get a deal done ... We're supporting the folks who are without a job within the actual system of NBA arenas, whether it's the popcorn vendors or the janitors. Regardless of who it is, everybody's out of a job. We're trying to resolve that as soon as we can.
HuffPost Sports: You were recently quoted as saying that if this drags on, then the players need to think about their own league.
Stoudemire: Absolutely. That's definitely what we should think about. If we're going to be locked out for a year or two, then the next situation for us is to try to start our own league, and to apply these jobs to the ones that everyone's missing out on, and to create these jobs for them.
HuffPost Sports: How far along are those talks of a new league at this point?
Stoudemire: Well, we've got to figure out what's going on with the actual lockout, and what the next steps are, and how long we're going to be locked out for. So ...
HuffPost Sports: Do you have any personal opinions on how long you think the lockout will go?
Stoudemire: I don't know exactly how long it will go, but hopefully it will get resolved sooner than later. That's what we are hoping for.
HuffPost Sports: When or if the lockout does get resolved, and you guys get back on the court, how do you feel about the Knicks' chances next season?
Stoudemire: I feel good. It's a matter of us making sure we're healthy, and doing everything to stay healthy, and then having a great start to the year, whenever it does start, and take that momentum on to the postseason.
HuffPost Sports: If you couldn't choose the Knicks, who would you say is the team to beat heading into this season, again assuming that it does happen?
Stoudemire: The Dallas Mavericks. They're the world champs, and they're sitting on the throne right now, and they're the team to beat.
HuffPost Sports: You don't think the team's age will be a factor?
Stoudemire: A lot of times age can work to your advantage. Because of experience, they play so relaxed and so calm out there, and they know how to get it done.
HuffPost Sports: Were you rooting for them or the Heat in the Finals?
Stoudemire: Neither one.
HuffPost Sports: Kobe has talked about maybe going over to Italy for one game. Have you considered going overseas?
Stoudemire: It depends on how long this lockout's going to last for. Going overseas could be a great opportunity for guys who play well in the pros, and have other pro trainers, which wouldn't be a bad idea. Because here, with the lockout rules, we can't even talk with our teams' physicians, which doesn't make sense because if the guys were to start playing when the lockout was over, and they get injured, it'd end up hurting the actual team and the organization. I would think that they would want us to talk to the physicians so we could stay in shape and get ready for when the season does (start), but again, it doesn't work that way with the NBA, so it may be smart to go overseas.
HuffPost Sports: What have you been doing with your spare time during the lockout?
Stoudemire: Where do I start? I've been acting a lot, a lot of cameos, a lot of shows, a lot of filming. I've been studying, been in school down in Florida at FIU; I've been studying all summer. I have a children's book with Scholastic that's being released soon. I just released my clothing line last month. My shoe release was October 1, which was released by Nike, the Air Max Sweep Thru, so I've been pretty busy.
HuffPost Sports: If for some reason, the NBA did go away and you couldn't play basketball, what would you do next?
Stoudemire: Oh man, I'd be working with youth and educating the youth for sure. The event tonight is part of the Boys and Girls Club of America, which is the platform of youth. So any time I can be a part of the youth is very, very important to me and my foundation.