By Al Iannazzone

Amar’e Stoudemire is somewhat like the Knicks right now.

Both were expected to have little left or essentially be done at this point of the season. But the Knicks remain in the thick of the playoff hunt, just 1½ games out of the last Eastern Conference playoff spot heading into Friday night’s game against the Suns. Stoudemire has enjoyed a renaissance and has been a major contributor to the cause.

“I couldn’t be more proud of a pro because Amar’e works to play basketball,” coach Mike Woodson said. “A lot of players probably would have called it quits after what he’s gone through.”

Multiple knee surgeries have taken away some of the explosiveness that Stoudemire displayed during his eight years with the Suns. But they didn’t take away his drive, work ethic or heart.

After playing only 29 games last season — all as a reserve — and undergoing three knee operations in a 10-month span, he is playing better than anyone not named Amar’e Stoudemire could have imagined.

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