I thought it was pretty hilarious that Amar’e Stoudemire said (for the second time) that he was learning defense for the first time. He is playing under a defensive-minded head coach in Mike Woodson so he’s learning basic stuff about defense such as staying in front of your man, paying attention, and breathing (kidding, about the last one but this whole thing is just laughable to me).
If you missed it, this was what he said in NewsDay.
“Just having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help,” Stoudemire said. “I’ve never been taught defense in my whole career. To now have a coach that actually teaches defense and teaches strategies and knows positioning and posture and how to guard different plays is going to be helpful. I’m going to take it as a challenge, accept the challenge and try to improve as a player.”
He basically took an unintentional pot shot at former coach Mike D’Antoni, the coach who turned him into a monster offensive player.
The current head coach of the Lakers wasn’t really offended after he learned of what his former player said. In fact, D’Antoni thought he was great for trying to improve. From The New York Post:
Rather than taking offense at Stoudemire’s observation, D’Antoni, who coached him for eight seasons with the Suns and the Knicks, congratulated him on his new attitude.
“I think it’s great,” D’Antoni said Thursday after the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice. “I think it’s great that he’s listening. He might have forgotten that Mike Woodson was also running the defense the last year I was there, so I don’t know if he just didn’t pick that year to listen. But Amar’e’s great. Sometimes you say things, but hopefully, that’s another step he can take forward and help his game. That would be great.”
That’s right. Mike Woodson was the assistant to D’Antoni to help out with the defense last year. Before D’Antoni resigned, the Knicks were in the Top 10 defensively, mostly due to eventual Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
D’Antoni was never known for his defensive coaching but the Suns weren’t that bad defensively; they were mostly in the middle of the pack but everyone knew of their fast-paced offense. They may have been routinely allowing the most points per game but on defensive rating (points per possession allowed), they weren’t too bad at all (as mentioned, middle of the pack).
And again, D’Antoni’s had some pretty good defensive players over the years that were known for their defense. Chandler was obviously one. Iman Shumpert was starting to become a very good perimeter defender. Raja Bell was pretty good defensively and Shawn Marion was everywhere on the defensive end. I don’t know why Amar’e wouldn’t watch those guys play defense and realize that he had to make the effort defensively. And I don’t know how you can’t pick up fundamentals on defense after playing a decade in the league such as not keeping your eye off the guy you’re defending or staying in front of your man.
The Lakers will also be all right, defensively, if Dwight Howard becomes 100 percent this season, too. In the meantime, the Lakers continue to struggle on that end under D’Antoni. But remember also, that they were pretty bad under Mike Brown, too, and Brown was a defensive specialist.
Hopefully, things go right for both parties (it certainly did for the Knicks last night). Especially for Stoudemire.