Amare Stoudemire tried to slink out of AmericanAirlines Market undetected, go protected in a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, departed arm in a throw, nothing but arena protection status between him and the privacy of a chair on the New You are able to Knicks' group bus.
Behind Amare, though, were a mob of press and a few inquisitive arena employees seeking horribly to see or talk with the man who was so disappointed with a Activity 2 loss to the Las vegas Warm that he broken start his left-hand kickboxing a flame extinguisher protect, placing into concern his accessibility for the next game and the relax of the sequence.
If Amare attracted a portion of that interest from his group mates just an time or two previously, it never might have come to this.
If Amare were a main factor for the Knicks rather than an postscript once Carmelo anthony to lakers Anthony accomplished his solitude flow, Stoudemire's side wouldn't be organised together by stitching and his New You are able to group wouldn't be apparently exploding at its joints.
Even though the Knicks got 23 factors nearer to their first playoff success since 2001 than they did two times previously, the proof on the earth stayed just as frightening.
This Anthony-Stoudemire coupling just doesn't perform.
While that's hardly unbelievable information to those with saw the two perform together for sections of the last two conditions, the truth is the Knicks should have seen this arriving.
And they could have done something about it.
Instead, the crew's front side workplace, without Donnie Walsh in the times to truly run the display, again revealed a shortsightedness that has haunted it since a long time ago when playoff benefits were predicted, not vanished.
The Knicks could have, and should have, used the amnesty condition this previous Dec on Amare, not Chauncey Billups.
The Knicks should have noticed that the getting Anthony modified the whole strategy that began with the deciding upon of Amare in the summertime season of 2010, and used the Get Out of Prison Totally free greeting cards the new combined negotiating agreement provided them to rid themselves of the most unwanted agreement in the NBA.
Instead, the Knicks featured at a group presenting Anthony, Amare and Tyson Tempe, and trained by Scott D'Antoni and his guard-driven felony and said, "This ... this is going to win us a tournament very soon."
It's clear and understandable why lovers and press as well -- otherwise known as people who aren't compensated to create long-term golf ball choices for an NBA series -- believed this Knicks group would create the leap to Southern high level position and perhaps task the Bulls and Warm for a journey to the NBA Finals.
The Knicks had brands. They had familiar brands, were trained by a familiar name and were going to be better defensively because of the use of Tempe.
But how is it possible for the Knicks' front side workplace to look at what it had in position before the period began and not see that it was ill suitable and hopeless for this kind of ending?
They had a instructor who required a factor secure and didn't have a excellent one until Jeremy Lin dropped into their temps -- and that didn't even last lengthy enough to preserve D'Antoni.
They had one of the mission's best scorers -- if not the best scorer -- enjoying right next to a energy ahead who loves credit reviewing quite a bit himself.
And they were about to indication a protecting existence in the center that would create them both look better, but wouldn't exactly keep much area for Amare to work the way he did either in Arizona or in his first season in New You are able to, when he was a serious MVP selection through the first one fourth of the period.
But rather than rid themselves of Amare and look previous this period, the Knicks went with the immediate-satisfaction path. The path that would offer passes and help proprietor Wayne Dolan cope with that $850 thousand Madison Rectangle Lawn remodelling.
They used the amnesty condition on Billups, who had one season departed on his cope, and determined that this would be the team that not only would contend this period, but for the next several conditions, because the limited CBA and Stoudemire's albatross of an without insurance agreement would energy them to do so.
No, it wouldn't have been the brightest advertising shift to conquer Amare to the restrain just one offseason after New You are able to lovers dropped in really like with him.
But it wouldn't have been that challenging to persuade those lovers that Anthony may to lakers is a activity title filter. A strategy filter. And that developing around Anthony may to lakers intended Amare just didn't fit any longer.
It would be even easier just by mentioning the name Deron Williams (remember, this is when D'Antoni was still the coach) as a potential 2012 signee, with enough salary cap space to sign another quality player as well. Even the backup plan could've included signing Steve Nash and spending the rest of its money on building a true team.
That would've made a lot more sense, and the only cost would've been a spurned Stoudemire and one more season with playoff hopes but no championship hopes.
That sales job would've been a lot less complicated than the one the Knicks have ahead of them now.
When this series is over -- and the only real mystery left is whether the Knicks will end their drought and win a single playoff game -- the Knicks will have to convince anyone listening that this core group can be anything more than what it was this season.
The Knicks will be about as flexible as Carmelo's offensive approach when it comes to offseason maneuvering. So the improvement can't be that significant.
Yes, the team can hope to have an improved, and recovered, Iman Shumpert and re-sign Lin and hope that Landry Fields' regression isn't permanent.
But overall, it's this big three or bust.
And based on Stoudemire's actions, it might already be bust.
This isn't an indictment of Anthony, by any means.
He's one of the few unstoppable scorers in the league, and when he's the primary option offensively, he'll engage defensively. He has done it since Mike Woodson took over, despite spending much of his time playing out of position.
"I don't know how many times in his career where we've said, 'Great defense. But he's killing us,'" Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after Anthony scored 30 points, 15 in the first quarter, in Game 2.
But if you're going to build around Anthony, you take advantage of who he is. You don't pair him with a score-first power forward whose athleticism and effort seem to magically leave him when he's not getting touches offensively.
The Knicks could've even built around Stoudemire, kept Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph and Timofey Mozgov, and even that team would've made more sense than this one (and the rumors in New York were that Dolan brokered that deal against the advice of Walsh, and that's why Walsh left this past offseason).
Instead, the Knicks get a bloody hand and an apologetic tweet from a player who's supposed to be a stabilizing force.
Without much to look forward to, either.
Now, the Knicks could still find the tiniest of cracks to create an escape route.