Amar’e Stoudemire made his season debut for the New York Knicks after missing the opening two months of their National Basketball Association campaign following knee surgery.
Stoudemire, 30, came off the bench with 3 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter of the Knicks’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden, receiving a standing ovation before blowing a kiss to the fans.
“I did everything I can to get back into top shape and be healthy again,” Stoudemire said in a televised pre-game interview. “I followed every instruction the training staff gave me and I feel great now.”
Stoudemire, who averaged 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season, injured his left knee Oct. 19 in a preseason game and later had surgery to remove debris, damaged cartilage and bone from around the joint. It was the same knee that needed microfracture surgery in 2005.
In his absence, the Knicks have gone 21-9 to lead the Atlantic Division by 5 1/2 games over the Brooklyn Nets.
Carmelo Anthony, who missed the last two games with a hyperextended left knee, also returned to the Knicks’ lineup. Anthony’s 28.5 points per game are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant for second in the NBA behind the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (30.1).
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