Amar’e Stoudemire took the money and the Broadway stage, just before LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach, and announced, “The Knicks are back,” and even though everyone knew that was not the case, it was something — a shining light of hope at the end of a long, dark tunnel that stretched back to 1973.

Stoudemire was damaged goods. James Dolan and Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni knew that, but they had spent two depressing years getting out from under the salary cap hell left by Isiah Thomas, and knew they could not ask season-ticket holders to pay the freight for the renovation of the Garden unless they introduced a star.

So they paid him an uninsured $100 million over five years, and he was something to see, the force of his game and personality often carrying the Knicks by himself, the Garden serenading the man everyone knew as STAT with sweet serenades of “MVP, MVP, MVP.”

Then Carmelo Anthony arrived, and expectations were raised, and Stoudemire’s body began to break down, the way the Suns presumed it would, and he was no longer The Man. The questions began about whether he and Anthony ever could coexist, and you hope that punching that fire extinguisher down in Miami last spring won’t be his lasting New York legacy — when the last two years of his contract look better only when compared to the last five years of A-Rod’s contract.