- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's almost easy to forget now, but the Knicks were once Amar’e Stoudemire’s team.
Back in 2010-11, New York was competing for a playoff spot thanks to Stoudemire's leadership and MVP-level production.
Carmelo Anthony's arrival changed everything for Stoudemire. He was no longer the unquestioned leader of the Knicks, nor was he their No. 1 option.
Those titles belonged to Anthony. Anyone who has watched the team over the last two seasons can tell you that.
Still, it's somewhat significant that Stoudemire said the following when asked on Thursday if the Knicks were his or Anthony's team:
"It's Melo's team," a smiling Stoudemire said after the Knicks' win over the Pistons in London, according to reports.
Stoudemire, of course, wasn’t breaking any new ground here. It's crystal clear that the Knicks are Carmelo Anthony's team. But for Stoudemire to recognize and accept publicly that he is no longer the primary piece for the Knicks is important.
The Knicks need Stoudemire to be comfortable in his role this year -- whether it's off the bench or as a starter -- if they hope to make a deep run in the playoffs.
So for Stoudemire to have the self-confidence to admit that he's playing a complementary role to Anthony is a good sign.
And, so far, it has worked.
If Stoudemire can develop into a productive member of the second unit or a complement to Anthony in the starting five, it would only make the Knicks a tougher out in the playoffs.
New York's star duo played well against the Pistons on Thursday. Anthony had 26 points on 8-for-19 shooting. Stoudemire, in his best performance since coming back from knee surgery, had 17 points on 3-of-5 shooting. He went 11-for-12 from the foul line in 20 minutes.
Anthony and Stoudemire shared the floor for a little over 14 minutes in the Knicks’ win. After the game, a reporter asked Anthony if this was the best team he has played on in his 10 years in the NBA.
"By far," Anthony said. "I've been on some good teams. ... But as far as being a complete team from top to bottom, this is the best team that I've been on."
The best team Anthony has ever been on can be even better with a healthy, productive Stoudemire.
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5dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann