- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Two hours before tipoff on Monday, Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire was in the bowels of Madison Square Garden, shaking hands and sharing hugs with dozens of Madison Square Garden workers, thanking them for their service.
"They actually work for the Garden and work here to help our organization grow smoothly. So it's only right to show support on how much we appreciate how much they work," Stoudemire said.
For the second straight year, Stoudemire, through his foundation, provided lunch for approximately 600 Garden workers. Last season, he bought lunch for Garden workers before the season opener on Christmas. This season, he chose to do it on Martin Luther King Day before the Knicks hosted the Brooklyn Nets.
"It's really just showing support that we truly appreciate all the employees that actually make our job easier as basketball players," Stoudemire said. "... It's on a special day as well, a day of unity. It's great to bring everybody together for a nice cause."
Stoudemire, his wife, Alexis, and his three children spent time talking to the Garden workers who came to eat.
Stoudemire, eight games into his comeback attempt from left knee surgery, shook hands and signed autographs for several workers.
"I think they are our biggest fans," Stoudemire said. "... So to be here to shake hands with them is just another added bonus to let them know how much we truly appreciate them."
Stoudemire, who's averaging 10 points and three rebounds on 45 percent shooting in 21 minutes a night, said he had a simple message for Garden workers.
"It's just thank you, it truly is," Stoudemire said. "Thank you says a lot when you truly appreciate the hard work that goes into it behind the scenes that a lot of our fans don't get a chance to see. So I want to bring that situation to light."
3dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann