Amar'e Stoudemire Looks Sharp, Feels 'Phenomenal' in Preseason Opener
At times, Stoudemire showed flashes of what we're used to seeing from someone who was a starter on the Western conference All-Star team last season, and finished with 12 points and five rebounds in just 17 minutes of action. But both he and his head coach, Alvin Gentry, know that he's still a long way from being all the way back.
"It's going to be a process; it's not something that's going to happen overnight."
Stoudemire played sparingly, in what was a sloppy game that featured a combined 56 turnovers. While his conditioning wasn't necessarily where it needs to be to start the season, Stoudemire definitely played with a lot of energy, especially considering the fact that it's been over seven months since he's played ball against anyone other than his teammates.
"To take seven months off, and not to have any activity, and to jump right into camp with two-a-days, and then play my first game out here tonight, I feel great," Stoudemire said. "I feel like I'm ahead of schedule. I felt horrible day one of training camp, but I feel great now."
Stoudemire is still working himself back into shape, but if the results he achieved in training camp are any indication, he should have no problem being ready for the start of the regular season, which is just over three weeks away.
"I went into training camp weighing 264, leaving at 251," Stoudemire said. "Went in there with 9.5 percent body fat, and came out with seven percent body fat. So I'm still working to get myself in shape."
There was a sequence in the second half where Stoudemire ended up converting powerful, back-to-back slam dunks. It was the defining stretch for him in the game, and considering how hard he's worked to recover from the eye surgery, it was a sequence that helped to erase any doubts he had about his ability to get back to competing at 100 percent.
"It was a long time coming," Stoudemire said.
Amar'e never doubted his ability to return to an All-Star level. But when a player sustains an injury as serious as the one Stoudemire suffered, it definitely makes him take a second look at a somewhat blessed career.
"I never really had doubts, but there were times when I had the eye surgery, I was a long way off from playing basketball," Stoudemire said. "There was a little worry there, a little fear -- and I don't fear too much at all. But to finally be back out there on the court and playing with these guys, I feel phenomenal.
"I just feel like, I really enjoy the game of basketball now. I did then, but now, I definitely appreciate it."