So today will not go down in New York history as the day that LeBron James came to the Big Apple and brought the New York Knicks not only back to respectability but also back to championship calibre. As a once and (I hope) future Knicks fan — I can still see Charles Smith failing to get either a basket or a foul off Horace Grant in four attempts under the basket during the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals — I’m disappointed that James didn’t choose to become King of New York. A Knicks team led by James and Amar’e Stoudamire would have made for a great rivalry with a Miami Heat team led by Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

Still, though, you can’t help respecting a sports superstar who chooses to take less money (mind you, he’ll still get a ton) to play with his friends (Dwayne and Chris) with the hope of winning not one but several championships together. We’ll see if these guys will be able to do the really hard thing and share the ball so that they complement rather than thwart one another. Meanwhile, I hope for Miami’s sake that they’ve decided to leave enough money in Pat Riley’s budget to field a full team. Right now the Heat have, what, four players under — or about to be under — contract?

Maybe this will indeed go down in history as the week the Knicks revived themselves by signing Stoudamire to anchor the franchise. Apparently, Knicks president Donnie Walsh does have a Plan B in place that involves a sign-and-trade agreement for David Lee. (Actually, it’s probably Plan B-2, since signing Stoudamire was Plan B once the handwriting about James was on the wall.)

Here’s what I fear: that the Knicks will indeed revive themselves but that — in the same way that the Knicks of Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Charles Smith, and John Starks could never get the best of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and their Bulls teammates — Stoudamire and Co. will come close but never get the best of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and whoever plays for the Heat with them.

Here’s hoping that I’m right about the Knicks’ revival and wrong about their becoming also-rans. In any case, Stoudamire and Co. have got to be more watchable than the teams that Isiah Thomas saddled us with lo these many years.

[Photo:Rich Arden/ESPN, via Associated Press]