- Last Updated: 10:35 AM, December 28, 2010
- Posted: 2:10 AM, December 28, 2010
MIAMI -- Heat coach Erik Spoelstra met with Amar'e Stoudemire and his agent, Happy Walters, at midnight, July 1 in Los Angleles for two hours.
Stoudemire was so busy meeting with the Heat and the Knicks were so busy meeting with Joe Johnson and Mike Miller that night in Santa Monica, Calif., Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni and Stoudemire could only talk by phone briefly in the first hours of free agency. Knicks brass and Stoudemire agreed to meet in New York after their sojourn to Cleveland to woo LeBron James.
"It was a very good meeting," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told The Post yesterday. "He was a confident guy. My sense was his main concern was to go somewhere he can win."
Stoudemire had intense interest in Miami, where he has owned a home for several years. He also would have returned to the state where he lived during his high school years before turning pro. Stoudemire was Mr. Basketball in Florida his senior year at Cypress Creek High in Orlando.
The Heat may have tried to get Stoudemire on the cheap in order to get James and Dwyane Wade to fit under the salary cap, but ultimately sources said the Heat went harder after Chris Bosh because of Wade's personal friendship with him. The Heat may have preferred Stoudemire's talent because the team made several attempts to trade for him at last February's deadline, according to sources.
As it turned out, Bosh, James and Wade all took less money to fit under the cap, and Stoudemire did better financially, getting the maximum $100 million contract from the Knicks. It seems to be working out for everybody as the Knicks and Heat ready for a rematch tonight in Miami.
"I think the players they brought in absolutely have embraced their style of play and just as importantly playing in New York," Spoelstra said. "That can't go understated. Stoudemire is playing at an MVP level. He's embraced playing in the Big Apple wholeheartedly to the point you can't imagine him playing anywhere else."
The Knicks practiced yesterday, and their charter flew on time at 3 p.m. from Westchester, landing safely in Miami at 7.
Chris Bosh , who rebuffed the Knicks, said being in warm Miami and not in the blizzard in New York was a relief.
"It's one of the pluses, one of the perks being here," he said. "It's lovely here. Even when it's a little cool, the sun is still shining."
Dwyane Wade on the Knicks' renaissance being a good thing: "It's where basketball was created. All the excitement, the hype builds. Having them not be good the last year 10 years may have hurt the league in a way. For them to be back with a star and a lot of good players, it's good for the game."
Regarding the Heat's monster turnaround after a mediocre start, James said, "When you're in a situation you never thought you'd be in, it definitely humbles you. To have that humbling experience at the beginning of season has helped us."
Spoelstra said the early troubles helped his team.
"Until you're actually in the storm you don' know what to expect," he said. "We survived that. We learned a valuable lesson. But the only opinion that matters is ours. We will not be influenced by anyone else. If you jump on that bandwagon and off that bandwagon, we will get whiplashed every 24 hours because it's like swaying in the wind."Follow @NYPostsports