New York Knicks a Legitimate Power in East, Despite Missing out on LeBron James

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It's ironic — the New York Knicks did everything in their power this summer to land prized free agent LeBron James. They lost out to the Miami Heat, and now look — the Knicks are right there with the Heat, playing with a sense of togetherness LeBron and the South Beach All-Stars can only dream of.

The Knicks now stand at 16-9 through 25 games, lightyears better than anyone thought they'd be. The Heat are just one game ahead at 17-8.

Both teams did everything last season to jockey for financial position to pile up superstars. In the end, Pat Riley and the Heat got three. Donnie Walsh and the Knicks got just one — Amare Stoudemire — but they're making the most of him.

In Amare's last eight games, these are his eight point totals: 37, 35, 34, 31, 34, 34, 36, 30. The Knicks have won all eight contests, propelling them from 8-9 on the morning of Nov. 28, seventh place in the crowded Eastern Conference, to where they are now two weeks later. They're right in the thick of it, racing for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Or maybe even the No. 1.

It might be time to start thinking of the Knicks as a threat to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. This team is much more than just a superstar — it's not just Amare, it's Amare plus the perfect group of role players around him. They've got Ray Felton as a point guard who can push the tempo and get Amare going. They've got Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari to hit shots when Amare's presence frees them up. They've got Ronny Turiaf next to Amare playing some much-needed solid fundamental D.

Memo to Pat Riley: This is how you build a basketball team around a superstar. You find other guys that fit. They make him better, and vice versa. It's called symbiosis, and it's a beautiful thing.

The Knicks are quickly emerging as a power in the East. On Wednesday night, they host the Celtics — winners of 10 straight games will visit winners of eight straight. One team will snap an impressive streak, but the other will make a big, big statement.

What do you think? Are the Knicks for real? Share your thoughts below.

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