The instant Amare Stoudemire’s name was echoed, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni started shaking his head with a smile.
He knew what was coming.
The Knicks forward who played for D’Antoni both with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, gushed about New York’s 22-10 record under coach Mike Woodson with an indirect shot at D’Antoni. Stoudemire told reporters in New York City that “I’ve never been taught defense in my whole career.” Stoudemire never echoed D’Antoni’s name, but the insult was made clear.
“I don’t think he meant it bad,” D’Antoni said. “But it’s mind boggling.”
What do you think he meant by it?
“Come on,” D’Antoni said, before listing Stoudemire’s previous coaches. “He just threw Frank Johnson, myself, Alvin Gentry [under the bus.]. Actually Mike Woodson, is he saving the good stuff? He was the defensive coach. I’ll save that until I really coach him? That doesn’t make any sense. A lot of times players say things to say things. I have a good relationship with him and he’s a good guy. I hope him the best. If he’s learning, great.”
Stoudemire became a six-time All-Star and ran the pick-and-roll sequences to perfection with Lakers guard Steve Nash in Phoenix. But he had a poor defensive reputation where he often looked lost on rotations and lacked enough hustle to match up inside. D’Antoni’s never had a strong defensive reputation either. The Lakers rank last in defensive transition points allowed. But Shawn Marion and Raja Bell thrived on defense under D’Antoni in Phoenix.
How did they learn how to play defense?
“It just boggles the mind,” D’antoni said, with a laugh. “It just boggles the mind.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org