D’Antoni deflects Stoudemire’s defensive coaching criticism
“I’ve never been taught defense in my whole career,” said Amar’e Sotudemire before gushing about current coach Mike Woodson’s success with the New York Knicks, who are 22-10 under him this season. “Just having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help.”
While Mike D’Antoni was glad that Amar’e Stoudemire was catching up with the defensive side of the game, he refused to take accountability.
“I think it’s great that he’s listening… You know, if he's learning, great. He needs it. That would be super,’ said Mike D’Antoine on Friday. “Hopefully, that’s another step he can take forward and help his game.”
“I don’t think he meant it bad,” Mike D’Antoni, who still felt the concealed sharp edges in Amar’e Stoudemire’s comments. “But it’s mind boggling.”
I mean, come on. He just threw Frank Johnson, myself, Alvin Gentry and actually Mike Woodson (under the bus),” Mike D’Antoni continued making a stand that Amar’e Stoudemire failed to make the most of previous coaches as well. “Was (Woodson) saving the good stuff? Because he coached him eight months and he was the defensive coach.”
“So it was like, 'You know, I won't tell him that, I'll save that until I really coach him.' It doesn't make any sense,” added Mike D’Antoni. "Anyway, a lot of times players will say things just to say things. I have a good relationship with him. He's a good guy and I hope him the best.”
The 12-year veteran Amar’e Stoudemire served five seasons with the Phoenix Suns as well as a season and a half with the New York Knicks under Mike D’Antoni’s coaching. In truth, Mike D’Antoni has never been known for his lock-down defense.
The Phoenix Suns were averaging 94.4 points allowed per game during Amar’e Stoudemire’s rookie season, when Mike D’Antoni took over months later. Over the next four seasons, the Phoenix Suns ranked 20th or below in scoring defense. However, it may have much to do with Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced offense, with little-to-no defensive backing since the higher number of possessions tipped the scales of the opponents points allowed per game. Additionally, although Amar’e Soudemire’s four All-Stars came under Mike D’Antoni and stirred no issues in the pick-and-roll sequence with Steve Nash in Phoenix, he was known for a weakness on defensive side of the ball, often looked lost on rotations and lacked the energy to matchup competition inside the paint.
During Amar’e Stoudemire’s first season with the New York Knicks, in NBA team defense after allowing 105.7 point per game. As for the last eight games under Mike D’Antoni’s tutelage, the New York Knicks were 107.7 points per game.
Mike D’Antoni has carried his desire to often overlook the defensive aspect of the game to Los Angeles, where the Lakers rank last in the league in terms of defensive transition points allowed.
Depending on the way you see it, the argument could go both ways, especially with the numbers backing up Amar’e Stoudemire, but it definitely would have been better for Stoudemire if he’d shown some spark at rebounding.