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Amar’e Stoudemire can attribute his inspired post-surgery return to a vegan diet

Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire learn about The Cheesecake Factory's vegan options (Getty Images)

Two years ago, we relayed the news that then-Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was fasting from certain foods during the regular season’s midpoint, including meats, soda, and most carbohydrate-based products. His play during that time, for whatever reason, suffered before he went back to his usual routine. He attempted the same thing this season, same diet, and Deadspin pointed out last month that Anthony was getting the same results.

Amar’e Stoudemire is Anthony’s teammate on the most recent brand of the New York Knicks, and he’s enjoying a fantastic renaissance year. He’s also enjoying his greens. His brussels sprouts, even. From the New York Post:

Stoudemire recently went off the vegan diet for over a week, but his play didn’t suffer. He didn’t take any chances, though, and he returned to veganism yesterday before scoring 19 points in the Knicks’ 106-96 loss to the Wizards in Washington.

“I just needed a break,’’ Stoudemire admitted.

Stoudemire said a mixture of asparagus, brussels sprouts and salads have worked wonders. Last night after the loss, he sat with a plate of spinach and broccoli as his teammates downed postgame pasta and sausage.

“It purifies the red blood cells and eliminates toxins,’’ Stoudemire said. “It fortifies the blood. It helped me recover and persevere through injuries. I did that for three months. I wanted to really give myself the best opportunity to remain healthy.’’

This would include the two months following Stoudemire’s surgery last autumn, one that had many wondering if he’d ever return to be the sort of player he was before Anthony showed up in New York.

And in the weeks before Stoudemire went off the vegan diet? He was just as potent off the Knick bench as he was presumably enjoying chicken and Chilean sea bass – two proteins Amar’e admitted to missing the most, in talks with the Post’s Marc Berman, while sticking to his meat-less plan.

Overall, though his per game stats have gone down because of his new role as a super scorer off of the bench, Amar’e has picked up right where 2010-11 left off. It only took 20 months to get there, but Stoudemire is averaging over 22 points for every 36 minutes he plays, while shooting 58 percent from the field. His rebounds have dimmed in his new role, but fears of co-existing with Anthony and Tyson Chandler have dimmed – statistically, New York’s most potent lineup features that trio plus J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd in the backcourt. Two-thirds of his shot attempts, according to NBA.com’s stat tool, come from inside the restricted area. Not just the paint, but the heart of the paint.

It’s early, but it’s working. The Knicks are just 10-7 since Stoudemire returned, but they can blame that swoon on injuries to other key members and Carmelo Anthony’s suspension. Recently, with Stoudemire slappin’ the sea bass (I’m so sorry) the Knicks have won five of six.

Plenty of other factors go into this turnaround. For one, Stoudemire worked out endlessly over the summer following an embarrassing 2011-12 season, most notably during sessions with Basketball Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. The Knicks were extra-cautious in both determining that he needed surgery on his left knee, and for sitting him the full eight weeks following the operation. He was given a bench role to start the season, one that might stick up into the playoffs. On top of that, clearly, the guy is taking care of himself.

There’s no magic, kale-inspired formula. Good talent, good touch, good tutelage, good treatment, good time off and a good temperament all go into this rebirth.

Whatever the mix, keep it up. It’s great to have Amar’e Stoudemire looking like himself again.

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