As it stands, the New York Knicks are tied for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Even worse, the team they’re tied with, the Bucks, have beaten them in the season’s first two of four meetings betwixt the squads. Not the kind of return in investment one would expect from the league’s sixth-highest paid team.

But all of that doesn’t matter anymore because Amar’e Stoudemire has figured out the key to finishing out the season on a strong note. From the New York Times:

Stoudemire then made a plea for more professionalism in the locker room, saying that players need to show up earlier, with more focus and a more serious attitude.

“The joking around has to stop at some point,” he said. “We got to take this game very serious, especially in a time where now we’re in the eighth seed and we’re not playing well. So the time is now.”

Stoudemire did not offer specifics. But there was some horseplay in the locker room before the game, with one player throwing a chunk of food at Mike Bibby.

“There’s no time for fun and games right now,” Stoudemire said.

OK guys, Amar’e Stoudemire is serious now. No more hijinks, follies or shenanigans. No more laughing, grinning or giggling. No more Ivy League handshakes, 2Pac haircuts or couches. And for Pete’s sake, NO MORE THROWING FOOD AT MIKE BIBBY NO MATTER HOW MUCH HE DESERVES IT. It is time for the Knicks to get down to the nitty gritty, which means they need to put on their game faces early, Jean-Claude Van Damme style.

You might be thinking, “Shouldn’t the Knicks have been taking the whole season seriously, especially because this is a shortened season and there are more games in more days so focus is really important?” And really, that’s a fair assumption. I’m totally with you in thinking that. But that’s why we’re not in the NBA. Guys who are in the NBA and making $18 million a year to play hoops would know better than us when and when not to focus so it’s probably better that we leave it up to them. They are the experts.

Seriously though (get it?), watch out for the Knicks. They’ve managed to win almost 43 percent of their games without actually taking the games seriously, so imagine what they can do now that these things actually matter to them. It’s scary to think. Now that no one is throwing food at Mike Bibby, maybe they can make a real playoff push. Only time will tell.