Amare Stoudemire Disses Mike D'Antoni, Says He's "Never Been Taught Defense"

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 01:  Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks blocks out LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers during a free throw shot in the first half on January 1, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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It only took one game back on the court, but Amar'e Stoudemire is already starting to stir up trouble in New York, this time talking about his own shortcomings.

Talking to reporters on Wednesday in a practice following New York's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in Stoudemire's first game back, he quipped on how he had never had a coach teach him defense before.

Obviously, Stoudemire has played under Mike D'Antoni for five seasons with the Phoenix Suns and a season-and-a-half with the New York Knicks.

D'Antoni is not known for his defensive prowess, and has always been much more focused on the theory that the best defense is a better offense.

Throughout his career, Stoudemire has been a poor rebounder for a man with his size and athleticism, as well as a mediocre shot-blocker and a bit of a lost puppy on defense.

He lacks the fundamentals, instincts, footwork or know-how to stop guys from scoring, and seems to lay blame elsewhere for the fact that he's been a poor defender for his entire career.

In the interview, Amar'e refers to Mike Woodson as the first defensive coach he has had throughout his career.

I think just having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help. I've never been taught defense in my whole career, so to now have a coach that actually teaches defense and teaches strategies, and knows positioning and posture, how to guard different plays, it's going to be helpful. I'm going to take it as a challenge, and I'm going to accept the challenge and try to improve as a player.

Now, there's a fine line between openly criticizing his former coach and merely stating a fact, and Amar'e does a tremendous job of tip-toeing that line.

There's a bit of hyperbole in what Stoudemire is saying here.

On the one hand, D'Antoni is obviously an offensive-minded coach, but on the other hand there's no way D'Antoni has made it this far in the NBA without ever teaching defense.

@hpbasketball @celticstown MDA coaches defense and talks defense Xs-and-Os all the time. He's scattered and not great at it, but he coaches.

— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 3, 2013

It's good that Stoudemire is finally acknowledging that he needs to work on some part of his game, but this is a long time coming, and to outright blame it on a lack of coaching is strange. At some point a player has to take responsibility for himself.