Amare Stoudemire (toe) feels 'great'

NEW YORK -- Amare Stoudemire's sprained right big toe was "sore" throughout the Knicks' win over the Hawks on Wednesday night. But even with the pain, Stoudemire declared after the game that he is healthy enough to play in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game.

Just how much Stoudemire plays will be at the discretion of Eastern Conference coach Doc Rivers.

"I feel good after tonight. So it depends on Coach, how he feels the rotation should go," Stoudemire said after scoring 23 points in a little over 32 minutes against the Hawks. "I feel great."

Stoudemire initially expressed uncertainty about playing in the game after practice on Tuesday.

Tuesday's practice was the first time Stoudemire tested the injury. He was forced to miss last Saturday's win over the Nets, which was his first game lost due to injury this season.

Stoudemire initially suffered the injury in a collision with Ron Artest in the Lakers' win over the Knicks on Feb. 11. He admitted after Wednesday's win over the Hawks that the injury had been bothering him throughout the game.

"It was sore," he said. "It was sore all night but it didn't get worse. So that's a great sign. So I'm going to ice it up a little tonight and just take care of it over the weekend and I should be good to go by Wednesday [when the Knicks return to action against the Bucks]."

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said before Wednesday's game that he would not talk to Rivers about his use of Stoudemire in Sunday night's game. D'Antoni said it was Stoudemire's responsibility to inform Rivers if he felt he was limited by the injury.

The NBA traditionally frowns upon players sitting out the All-Star Game if they have played in their team's final game prior to the break, and Stoudemire would have been entering touchy territory if he declined to play in the league's showcase event.

"If I don't play, I will definitely have to participate, which is fine with me. I wouldn't mind playing a few minutes. But if my toe feels great then I'll play," Stoudemire said after Tuesday's practice.

Stoudemire is the first member of the Knicks voted into the starting lineup for the All-Star Game since Patrick Ewing in 1997 (when an injury kept him from playing). Ewing also was an All-Star starter from 1990-92, and prior to that Bob McAdoo was the Knicks' last starter in 1977.

The Knicks will likely be watching Stoudemire with a cautious eye on Sunday. In addition to the toe ailment, the 28-year-old Stoudemire has also suffered minor injuries to his left and right knees this season. He was listed as questionable prior to the Jan. 30 game against the Pistons with a right knee sprain suffered the previous game against the Hawks. He then tweaked his left knee that night against Detroit.

The Knicks have been careful with their $100 million man's chronically injured knees all season. He has sat out practices after games and between games on several occasions this year. The Knicks also asked him to sit out of the World Championships in Turkey last summer.

Stoudemire underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in late 2005. He had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in April 2006.

The former Phoenix Sun said on Wednesday that he was motivated to play in the All-Star Game because it would be his first as a Knick. He played in five All-Star Games as a member of the Suns. In his first season with the Knicks, he has led the team to 28 wins at the All-Star break. They finished with 29 wins last season.

"I think they deserve this type of success," Stoudemire said. "It's been a while for the New York franchise to have this type of success. I think the fans deserve it ... and for me to be in the middle of it is great."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.