- Tom Haberstroh
MIAMI -- It's not easy to meet adversity and see it as a golden opportunity, but that's what the Miami Heat started doing two years ago. And that's probably what the New York Knicks should do now with Amar'e Stoudemire's knee issues.
Back in 2010, Chris Bosh was away from the team for some time, but the extended absence came with a silver lining for the Heat -- it forced LeBron James to step on and play the 4. Setting screens? Rolling to the hoop? Banging down low with giants among giants? You can see why James, who had won two MVPs designated as a small forward, might have held some reservations about filling that role.
But once Bosh came back and the Heat lost the 2011 Finals, the reluctance dissipated and James diligently worked on playing big. It wasn't ideal and it wasn't familiar, but when Bosh was shelved with an abdominal strain in 2012 postseason, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had no choice but to put James -- and his 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame -- on the block and trust the All-Star to at least temporarily reinvent his identity.
"Whenever you struggle and go through adversity, if the team has the right perspective, those can be breakthrough moments," Spoelstra said Thursday's practice ahead of Friday's Knicks matchup. "You develop a sense of urgency and other aspects of your game."
It's an understatement to suggest that the Knicks are facing some adversity.
The latest news is that Stoudemire will be out for six to eight weeks with a knee "debridement" and have little in the way of healthy bodies to bolster their front line. Marcus Camby (calf) hasn't played a minute in the preseason, while Rasheed Wallace hasn't played a minute in two years. Tyson Chandler remains iffy with a bone bruise in his knee, which leaves 40-year-old Kurt Thomas as the freshest body on the roster outside of 28-year-old rookie forward Chris Copeland.
"Injuries are a reality, so you learn how to play different combinations and go to a different style play that can be dynamic," Spoelstra said. "We went through that when Chris Bosh went out and we had to find a game that we could go to and we were able to use that game in the playoffs."
Facing a similar situation that the Heat faced last season, the question now becomes whether Carmelo Anthony is willing to initiate his own "breakthrough" in light of his team's injury bug. The 6-8, 230-pounder could push that button if he willingly moves to the block and embraces the 4 like James did last season. For the Knicks, it could be a good thing.
Tom Haberstroh says Carmelo Anthony needs to embrace playing power forward, which would benefit the Knicks offense and defense.