"Too bad the Knicks and Lakers are done playing for this season . . . unless they meet in the Finals.
Amar'e Stoudemire added some fuel to the New York-L.A. rivalry when he heaped praise on Mike Woodson on Wednesday while also indirectly criticizing Mike D'Antoni for his failure to teach defense in New York.
Stoudemire had made allusions in the past to D'Antoni's failure to make the Knicks a good defensive team. But a day after making his season debut in the Knicks' loss to the Blazers, he unleashed his most damning comments toward the ex-Knicks coach who now is with the Lakers, when asked why he thought he could become a factor at that end of the floor.
"I think having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help," Stoudemire said after practice in Greenburgh. "I've never been taught defense in my whole career. So to now have a coach who actually teaches defense and teaches strategies and knows positioning and posture and how to guard different plays, it's going to be helpful."
Stoudemire has always been regarded as a poor defender, dating back to when he played for D'Antoni in Phoenix from 2004-2008. That didn't change in his past two seasons as a Knick. The Knicks didn't start to make significant strides in that area until last season, with the arrival of Tyson Chandler, who won Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson was also added to the D'Antoni staff as a defensive assistant in what ultimately turned out to be a head-coach-in-waiting post.