Category: Amare Stoudemire

>Tackling Athletes and Social Media


There are many athletes on twitter and the open filter that twitter allows can increase their brand and give their fans further insight into who they are off the court or playing field, but it can also tarnish their image. 
A true benefit of twitter can be raising awareness for ones personal foundation or charity, letting fans know what movies, music, or restaurants they like or describing the places that they travel in the offseason.  Various players on New York teams use twitter is a positive way to inform fans about their lives, interact with people that they choose, in addition to promoting their worthwhile foundations. 
Athletes should be able to speak their minds and what is going on within reason and some of the local ones to be highlighted are Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera, Russell Martin, Landry Fields, Amar’e Stoudemire, Roger Mason Jr. and Mark Sanchez.  This is because they don’t post anything to controversial and realize that everybody, including ESPN and the rest of the media, can see what they are tweeting. 
Recently Sanchez has been conducting his second annual JETS West camp at his high school in Mission Viejo, California.  This year the training out west is even more crucial because the NFL is in a lockout again and players are unable to train and their teams facilities.  Some of the Jets that have participated include Mark Brunell, Kevin O’Connell, Dustin Keller, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, Patrick Turner, Jeff Comberland, John Conner and Joe McKnight.  He has given followers access to what they have been eating (In-N-Out Burger among others) as well as pictures and videos of their training.  They have been watching film at the high school and they have even been holding contests for fans.  He has designed JETS West T-Shirts and said that the proceeds would go to charity.  Sanchez is getting in much needed off season repetitions with his receivers and running backs while giving to charity in the process.
Another player that has giving back to the community on his mind is the Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson.  He tweets updates on his Grand Kids Foundation to let followers know what he is doing to help the community.  He deserves praise for donating 300 bats to the New York Public School Athletic League, half wood for baseball, and half aluminum for softball, that the schools teams desperately need.  He also gave followers the opportunity to support his Grand Kids Foundation during the New York City Marathon.  He has posted pictures of himself practicing as well as stating notable achievements of African Americans during Black History Month.
Landry Fields did not have a lot of followers at the beginning of the year but once he started to prove himself in summer league, and was named a starter to begin the season he began to get many more.  He was a fan favorite this season for his fundamental play since he is able to succeed at many facets of the game.  His “Andy and Landry Show” brought many laughs, and he updated followers on different restaurants he was trying as well as how he was adapting to life in New York and being a rookie in the NBA.  Fields has even done creative contests where fans can win prizes.  He has been successful at not being controversial on twitter while informing followers of what is going on in his life.  
Yankees first baseman Teixeira recently joined twitter, and he largely uses it as a way to promote his foundation, Dreamteam25.  He partnered with the Harlem RBI association and made a sizable donation to benefit the kids.  Teixeira also let fans know that they have extra incentive to make a small donation to his foundation because they would have a chance to win a lunch TEX, a behind the scenes tour of Yankees Stadium, watching the game from a luxury box and other benefits.  Russell Martin took about an hour out of his off day, about two weeks ago, to answer questions from fans.  
Mason Jr. has used his twitter account to promote his foundation “The Roger Mason Jr. Foundation” as well as giving predictions on the playoffs and asking for museum suggestions from his followers.    He has successfully furthered his brand because he has interacted with fans while also staying away from controversial issues.  Stoudemire has promoted his recent sponsorship deals, TV appearances and even gave his followers a sneak peek into his trip to Israel last summer.
Overall, it is important, in this era of increased media scrutiny, that athletes realize that the world has access to what they post on twitter.  They should have the freedom to post what they want because it is unfiltered and a way to let their true personality out, but they shouldn’t touch on many offensive subjects that would ruin their image like Reshard Mendenhall did. Mendenhall, lost his sponsorship with Champion because he tweeted, among other things that he has “a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style”.  He posted this after the news of Bin Laden’s death was announced.  He should think twice before posting something controversial and insensitive like this.
It would not make sense to teams or certain athletes from using twitter because it can be a beneficial tool, but they should learn what is appropriate to post and what is not.  Some athletes don’t display any opinion, so at least here he was speaking what was on his mind, but I think next time he will learn to keep this to himself.  

>Knicks Need a Successful Off-Season to Take the Next Step


Taking into consideration that the Knicks had not been to the playoffs since 2004 and had not won a playoff game since 2001, this past season can be considered a success even though they got swept in the first-round by the Boston Celtics.
Playing in the playoffs this season ended a decade of futility on and off the court for the Knicks.  During the past 10 years they won the second least amount of games in the NBA and there was negative news off the court with Stephon Marbury, Isiah Thomas, Eddy Curry among others.  Mike D’Antoni might not be the right coach for the team since he does not emphasize defense but he certainly had a winning pedigree with the Suns.  At least the team did not have any major off the court issues this season.  The only distraction the players had to deal with whether or not the Carmelo Anthony trade would happen and who would be included.  It would make sense if D’Antoni had a “defensive coordinator” on his staff so that he could handle the offensive side of the ball, and they could improve the defense, but if Phoenix he was unwilling to do this. 
The Knicks could very easily have won the series in six or seven games if they did not suffer from two unfortunate injuries to two critical players.  Amare Stoudemire injured his back attempting a dunk during warm-ups before game two.  He valiantly played through the pain the rest of the serious but was not nearly at full strength.  Chauncey Billups suffered his injury with less than a minute remaining in the 87-85 game one loss.  He strained his left knee and was unable to play the rest of the series.  Billups only had 10 points, four assists and two rebounds before his injury but they missed his leadership and point guard abilities the rest of the series.  Landry Fields had a spectacular rookie season for a second round pick, and plays with all the intangibles that don’t show up in the box score, but it would have helped if he played like he did before the Anthony trade, in the playoffs.
A positive sign for advancing further next season is that the Knicks have their core of Anthony, Stoudemire and Billups.  They should be able to have better team chemistry and know where everybody likes the ball because they will have a whole training camp and preseason to play with each other.  The Knicks basically had two teams this season, one before the Melo trade with talented overachieving young players, and then one that was more talented, with two superstars, one star but few reliable players off the bench.
Even though the Knicks a talented trio of players, two in their prime and one nearing the end of his career, they will have to make some upgrades in order to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals or the Championship.  They need a capable back-up point guard because Toney Douglas is more of a shooting guard.  An acquisition that is even more crucial is signing a center that can block shots, score the basketball, play defense and be a reliable rebounder.
The reason a back-up point guard is not as important because Anthony Carter would be a decent last resort if the money does not work out.  Carter is a veteran of many playoff teams, and he proved that he can drive effectively to the basket, make open jumpers and get his teammates involved.  However, I am sure that the Knicks wish that they had Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler back because they would be a more reliable option at shooting guard than Fields.  They have both expressed interest in returning, especially Chandler recently, but they could both get paid more signing with another team.
Playing a mixture of Ronny Turiaf, Jared Jeffries and Shelden Williams in the playoffs again simply will not work.  The only way that the Knicks should bring back Jeffries is if it is in his contract that he will not take any lay-ups.  It is ridiculous that he misses almost every shot he takes five feet from the basket.  His best asset is probably drawing offensive fouls and playing defense.  Turiaf is an effective hustle player and can score down low and Williams deserved some more playing time.  The ideal fit would be a Marcus Camby type in his prime.  Somebody who does not need set plays all the time to score since they already have Anthony and Stoudemire.  Some options at center that the Knicks should go pursue include Nene, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, Reggie Evans, Spencer Hawes, or Samuel Dalembert.
Nene, Gasol, and Dalembert would be more expensive to sign but if one of them came to the Knicks that would make them into contenders to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.  Nene might have incentive to sign because he has played with many players on the Knicks and probably wants to get out of the first round.  It would be ideal if Wilson Chandler returned to the Knicks because he is versatile and is used to the D’Antoni offense but other guards to consider would be Daequan Cook, Jose Juan Berea, Nick Young or Earl Watson.  
Since the Knicks have picked up Billups’s $14.5 contract for next season and they also want to stay in the running for Chris Paul or Deron Williams, either at the trade deadline or in the summer of 2012, it will be key to not overpay.  So, if the Knicks can sign Berea, who averaged 9.5 points and four assists per game this season, to be the back-up point guard, or Watson, since they will probably be the cheapest, and anyone of the centers listed above the offseason by Donnie Walsh will be a success.
The Knicks could look to upgrade the shooting guard position in the draft.  It depends who the Knicks are able to get but Fields could still make sense as the starting shooting guard if he can play like he did before the All-Star break.  Signing a reliable center would bump the Knicks up a notch to compete with the Heat and Bulls for the Eastern Conference championship.