Amar’e Stoudemire made some headlines last week when he openly admitted that Mike Woodson was the first coach that taught him how to play defense. The Knicks’ power forward made his season debut last week and is averaging nine points per game coming off the bench for New York in last three games. In the following interview, Stoudemire addresses his comments about Mike Woodson and his relationship with former coach Mike D’Antoni. Amar’e Stoudemire joined ESPN New York with The Michael Kay Show to discuss making his season debut for the Knicks last week, getting back in playing shape, having no concerns about fitting back in with the Knicks, coming off the bench, not taking a shot at Mike D’Antoni with his compliment about Mike Woodson teaching him how to play defense and D’Antoni’s comments to the New York Times about teaching him defense.
Does it feel weird to be back? Are you still getting your feet out from under you?
“Yeah, very much so. Really, to just get out there is great for me, but I’m not quite strong just yet.”
How long will it take to be 100 percent out on the court?
“I don’t know. Most of my teammates said it’ll take two weeks to get your legs under you and it takes about a week or two.”
Was there any concern about fitting in with this team when you returned?
“Not at all. After speaking with Coach Woodson and also my teammates, everyone was very excited about my return and how I can help the team. There was no concern at all on my part.”
Is it tough for you as a star player to accept coming off the bench now for the Knicks?
“The most important factor at this point of my career, where maturity kicks in, is that the ultimate goal is to win a championship. and whatever it takes to accomplish that goal I am open to it. That’s the goal.”
When you said Mike Woodson helped you become a better defender some people thought you were taking a shot at
Mike D’Antoni. Did you take a shot at Mike D’Antoni?
“No. It was a compliment to Coach Woodson. Defensively, the different strategy he’s brought forth on the defensive end is something that is intriguing to me because it’s new to my ears.”
On his reaction to Mike D’Antoni’s comments to the New York Times about teaching him defense:
“Again, it was no shot at Mike D’Antoni. With much respect, I played with him for so long. I played for Alvin Gentry as well, and he taught me some defensive strategies, but I just think the importance of playing defense now under Coach Woodson, it is very, very imperative that we all stay in tune on the defensive end.”