by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

STAT makes his triumphant return to Phoenix as a member of the Knicks tonight, a place where despite his spectacular play, he never felt truly appreciated.

Stoudemire — on his way to yet an All-Star berth, and having led the stirring turn around in New York — tells the media in Suns-land that he didn’t get his just due during the eight years he played there.

From the AZ Republic:

Friday, Stoudemire will come out of the visitors’ tunnel at US Airways Center for the first time. Like he often was with the Suns, he will be the star of the better team. His play revitalized the Knicks (20-14). His absence has decimated the Suns (14-19).

“It’s something I couldn’t have imagined for the simple fact of how we’re winning and how beautiful the city and fans are,” said Stoudemire, the NBA’s second leading scorer to Kevin Durant at 26.4 points per game. “It’s rock-star status here in New York. If we would’ve kept it together in Phoenix, we could’ve had the same success. I’m satisfied. I wouldn’t do anything different … If they were looking to rebuild and thought I was the guy they wanted to rebuild with, then we could’ve came to an understanding,” Stoudemire said. “But apparently it wasn’t that way. It felt like I wasn’t wanted. It felt like I wasn’t appreciated. I felt like my play on the court was overlooked.”

Alvin Gentry thinks Ama’re Stoudemire ultimately wanted a team he could call “his”, and he’s gotten his wish.

Phoenix refused to give Amar’e the max deal he was looking for; they were in cost-cutting mode, and had fears about the health of his knees and eyes (all of which have been operated on.) So far, the move has obviously backfired on them, and Stoudemire is thriving in Gotham.

Tonight, Suns fans will likely cheer for the returning Amar’e; the reaction to the team’s front-office may be a tad different.