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Stoudemire says no coach ever taught him defense. D’Antoni says it’s good he’s listening.

Jan 4, 2013, 10:51 AM EDT

Mike D'Antoni Amare Stoudemire AP

Amar’e Stoudemire had said this before — that no coach had really taught him how to play defense before last season.

It’s a direct barb at now Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who coached Stoudemire in Phoenix and Los Angeles, a coach not exactly known for inspiring lock-down defense from his players. And Stoudemire repeated it again Wednesday talking about a rough defensive performance as he returns from knee surgery, reports the New York Times.

So it was something of a surprise when Stoudemire, at Knicks practice on Wednesday, took a mild swipe at D’Antoni, saying that, until now, “I’ve never been taught defense in my whole career….”

He said that his current coach, Mike Woodson, would insist that he focus on that part of the game. “I think having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help,” he added.

Mike D’Antoni’s response? Good to hear Stoudemire is finally paying attention (again via the New York Times).

“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.”

Well played, aside for the overuse of the word great.

D’Antoni’s best Phoenix teams were not as bad on defense as some think — they were right in the middle of the NBA’s defensive pack in terms of points per possession. But because they played at such a fast pace there were a lot more possessions so their points per game allowed was much higher. His first couple years in New York the defense was terrible but so was the roster, the defense didn’t get better until Tyson Chandler (and Mike Woodson) arrived.

The D’Antoni defense with the Lakers this season hasn’t been impressive, but it wasn’t under defensive minded coach Mike Brown either. That is really more about Dwight Howard’s back not being right.

  1. echech88 - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    It’s true D’Antoni doesn’t coach defense but the idea that Amare doesn’t understand how to play defense because of this is dumbfounding (and just dumb). Maybe he’ll blame his coach from when he was 10 years old too or his high school coach?

    Defense seems like a pretty fundamental concept that you learn on your first organized basketball team.

    Unbelievable that this guy can be given a $100M contract and still think his old coaches are accountable for how he plays and that it isn’t on him to earn that money as a professional. What a tool.

    • LPad - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      I don’t think its so much Amare doesn’t know how to play basic defense. He knows how to get into a defensive stance, which is pretty much all you learn about defense at ten. Defense is a lot more complicated than that and is probably a lot more complicated than offense.

      I think Amare is referring to the fact that D’Antoni’s defensive concepts are not considered correct by most of the coaches in the league, which is evidenced by the fact that D’Antoni has never produced a Top 10 defensive team. For ex., Woodson’s concepts are almost the exact opposite of D’Antoni’s. So from his perspective Woodson is essentially saying what he is used to is wrong and he should do this instead.

      As far as Woodson was there last year, it was lockout year with no training camp and no practice time with a coach in D’Antoni that does not spend a lot of time practicing defense. Both of which are severely needed when learning a new defensive system after spending your entire career in one system.

      • somekat - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        defense is anything but complicated. Man on Man is almost all effort and desire (Unless you are just physically outmatched, which Amare almost never is). Rotations are all about read and react, which ever player in every sport (with the possible exception of baseball depending on position) is the exact same thing. “Ball went to there, so he doubled, so I slide toward the ball”, not rocket science

        I know he’s not a Harvard grad or anything, but Amare is no idiot. This quote is the exact reason why the Knick will never trade him, because who is going to take on his contract for a guy who thinks like this? This isn’t some 18 year old kid fresh out of high school, this is a 30 year old in his 11th NBA season, who still thinks this way

  2. delusionalcardsfan - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    And neither of you will get a ring.

  3. eichler - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    I think a better comment from Amare would have been “D’antoni never expected defense, and I was too worried about scoring to care myself”.

    The reporter chiming in that the D’antoni teams were not as bad as you think, is smoking something really good. You almost have to throw points per possession out the window when a team is capable of giving up 120 pts any given night. They were THAT bad on defense, and still are now.

  4. somekat - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Seeing as how most of defense is mentality and effort (basically, the desire and will to stop someone), this is a much bigger indictment of Amare himself than it is any of his coaches. Defense is not talent driven, it is effort driven (to a large extent)

    Like D’Antoni said, Woodson was the assistant/defensive coach his last year there, and he iddn’t listen. Now I’ m not saying D’Antoni is a great coach, far from it (as a matter of opinion, I think his system can only work if his team is head and shoulders better than the opponent. To me, it just gives the other team more chances to get in their rythm unless you are so much better, or faster, it doesn’t matter), but this sound more like “I never cared about D until they told me I had to or I wasn’t playing” than it sounds like “I never knew how to play d”

  5. borderline1988 - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Well, it’s true in a sense…Amare has all the tools to be a good defender – he’s a good strong athlete, long, and has quick feet.

    But to blame former coaches…that’s a loser move. 50% of defense is just putting in the effort on that side of the floor, especially with regards to one on one defense (as opposed to rotating and helping on other players). That’s why even rookies can come in to the NBA and be good defenders – they were never trained by NBA coaches before but they are willing to hustle.

  6. spthegr8 - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Amare doesn’t play D, cuz he doesn’t care too. Just watch him play. If he wanted too be a good defender…..He would!!!

  7. Michael - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Someone got their LA’s mixed up with their NY’s. Pretty sure D’Antoni didn’t coach him in LA.

  8. CaJonMcChicken - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    As a Suns fan, I watched Amare grow. But Amare’s problem wasnt all on the defensive side. I think he needs to learn how to rebound instead of worrying about his D at this point. He is far too talented to be outrebounded like how he has been.

  9. iamjimmyjack - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Dwight the 3 time defensive player of the year not being on a defense oriented team is a problem. I have a really hard time believing that Mitch made that stupid decision to hire mike d. The day that could of changed our future for the next decade if Dwight leaves. Jim buss go join pat Haden in timeout.

  10. pricejustin24 - Jan 4, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    “It’s a direct barb at now Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who coached Stoudemire in Phoenix and Los Angeles, a coach not exactly known for inspiring lock-down defense from his players”

    … Never knew Stat played in LA, under d’antoni… Moron

  11. mrespn914 - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    amare is full of crap. he should have learned how to play defense in junior high school. he cant blame d antoni. he needs to blame himself.

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