In only a year, the New York Knicks have somehow wrested back from the Miami Heat all the dysfunction that made them, at the time, the NBA's most frustrating and mystifying collection of talent.
Team Dysfunction no longer plays on South Beach. They're officially based in the Big Apple.
The nadir representing this reversal stood before the media Wednesday, his left hand bandaged from a self-inflicted injury he administered in an unbelievably stupid tirade Monday, his words telling the tale.
"Out of all the times after games when you kick over an ice cooler, a chair ... You get upset, everyone gets upset, so passionate for the game," Amar'e Stoudemire told reporters. "Everyone gets upset at times. Never in a million years would I think I would cut my hand the way I did. So, bad timing. But I'll be back."
Bad timing, huh?
Yes, as if we needed confirmation, Amar'e has made sure everyone now knows the Knicks have regained their place from Miami as the most dysfunctional team in the league. The proof is in the injury -- in the stupidity of it, in the senselessness of it and in the fact Amar'e seems not to grasp that the blame lands directly on him, not on the capricious nature of chance.
It's also striking that the Heat, of all possible teams, will reap the benefit from this role reversal.
That couldn't have been any more clear Wednesday afternoon with the Knicks staring down a 2-0 playoff hole and now missing one of their two top-paid players. Throw in Jeremy Lin and Iman Shumpert, both of whom are also sidelined with injuries, and things aren't exactly looking good.
Stoudemire will not play in Game 3 on Thursday because of the injury, but he said there's a "great chance" he'll play Sunday in Game 4. We'll see.
"I think the fans are thinking I actually had a closed fist and I punched through a glass door," Stoudemire said. "I walked by and swung my arm backwards and hit the fire extinguisher door and sliced my hand a little bit by accident."
I think the fans simply care that Stoudemire has removed himself from the trenches just as the bombs are falling on his team, not whether he did so with an open palm, a clenched fist, a karate chop, an upper-cut or a high-five. It's the self-inflicted injury, dude, not the style with which it was inflicted.
"Not trying to make light of the situation, but it happens all the time," he said. "Some players kick over ice coolers, some players tip over a table, some players even hit a chair."
No, no, no, it does not happen all the time. It's the injury -- the self-removal from a critical playoff game -- that is the issue here, not whether players have outbursts. They certainly do. They just don't act so irresponsibly with those outbursts that they injure themselves as playoff elimination starts to press down. That should be particularly true for team leaders and veterans like Stoudemire.
A year ago, it was LeBron James who served as the NBA's poster child for possessing a stunning lack of self-awareness and sharing it with the world. Stoudemire has taken over that role, an appropriate move given the transference of dysfunction from South Beach to the Big Apple.
The Knicks start with tons of hype and its own version of a Big Three -- Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire and eventual Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler -- and still can't play .500 ball? Check.
Linsanity saves the day, at least until it comes to a crashing halt upon Anthony's return, ushering in a Knicks funk? Check.
Former Knicks head coach gets Mike D'Antoni forced out midseason? Check.
Now, with many, including myself, believing Stoudemire is fed up with his reduced role in interim head coach Mike Woodson's new offense, he assaults some glass and takes himself out of a critical Game 3? Check.
And then, reeling with 12 consecutive postseason losses, Stoudemire has the gall to say this stuff happens all the time? Check, check, check.
Give the Heat credit. They seem to have grown and learned from last year's struggles. LeBron is having one of the finest seasons of his career and should be a lock to take home his third MVP award. He's also eliminated the kind of mind-numbing gaffes that plagued him last year, whether it was on-court letdowns or off-court mistakes like the karma tweet or leaked reports to get his coach fired or some other eyebrow raiser.
Chris Bosh isn't talking about not belonging anymore, even if it's true, and Dwyane Wade hasn't made a habit of talking about how the whole world gets happy when the Heat lose. The general vibe of the team feels stronger, more unified, more relaxed.
That is to say, no longer dysfunctional.
That bodes really well for Miami. The other thing that bodes well for them? That they're playing the New York Knicks in this opening-round series, a team with a lot of talent, but even more chaos.
Miami and Dallas can be the first to tell you, dysfunction can fell any team, no matter how talented.
Which means Miami, newly reformed, couldn't have done better than to draw Stoudemire and the New York Knicks in the first round.
There's nothing like playing a team hurt from within by the kind of idiocy and dysfunction necessary to lead to a star player lacerating his own hand and taking himself out of the mix because he decided to strike an inanimate object.
You can follow Bill Reiter on Twitter or email him at email@example.com