New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire played his first game of the 2012-13 season on Tuesday and a day later he told local media that his knee was feeling strong while also taking an unintentional shot at former coach Mike D’Antoni.
Stoudemire struggled early in the Knicks loss to the Portland Trail Blazers but he said he expects to improve on both ends of the floor thanks to the guidance of coach Mike Woodson.
“Just having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help,” Stoudemire told Newsday. “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.”
D’Antoni, now the bench boss in Los Angeles for the Lakers, has coached Stoudemire twice in his career. First for eight seasons after the Suns drafted Stoudemire straight out of high school in 2002 and again with the Knicks from 2008 until last March.
On Thursday at the Knicks game day shootaround, Woodson was wise enough not to take a similar shot at D’Antoni for whom he served under as an assistant.
“I’m not going there with you guys,” Woodson told reporters. “I think Mike D’Antoni is a great coach. He does a number of wonderful things on both ends of the floor. Amar’e is entitled to his opinion but I think every coach in this league is a great coach. It’s not an easy job by no means.”