Mitch Lawrence of The New York Daily News reported on January 2 that Amar'e Stoudemire had never been taught how to defend. Fortunately for New York Knicks fans, STAT claims head coach Mike Woodson has broken the mold.
In response, former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni has called STAT's criticism of his coaching methods "mind-boggling."
To be fair, D'Antoni does have a leg to stand on. Stoudemire's four All-Star and three All-NBA appearances while playing for coach D'Antoni.
With that being said, D'Antoni is notorious for overlooking the defensive aspect of the game.
Other than D'Antoni, STAT's past coaches have included Frank Johnson, Terry Porter and Alvin Gentry. Even if he meant no harm in his criticism, Stoudemire's words clearly stung one man.
"I think just having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help," he said. "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."
Statistically speaking, STAT is spot-on with his evaluation.
Phoenix allowed just 94.4 points per game during his rookie season, but coach Johnson was fired in favor of D'Antoni months later. Since then, it has been all-out offense and little-to-no defense.
The Suns ranked 20th or worse in scoring defense in each of the following seasons that Stoudemire was there.
During his first season with the Knicks, Stoudemire played for a defense that ranked 27th at 105.7 points allowed per game. After starting hot defensively, D'Antoni's Knicks finished the final eight games of his tenure by allowing an average of 107.8 points per contest.
Even still, D'Antoni stands by the belief that he coached and coaches defense.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, D'Antoni responded to STAT with a rather ambiguous choice of words. Ones that claim he wasn't insulted, but instead baffled.
You know, the typical D'Antoni approach to adversity.
"I don't think he meant it bad," D'Antoni said after the Lakers' shootaround Friday in preparation for their game against the Los Angeles Clippers. "It's mind-boggling, but I don't think he meant it bad."
Whether he meant it negatively or not, Stoudemire had a point.
D'Antoni's Los Angeles Lakers presently rank 25th in scoring defense. They've allowed 100.3 points per game for the season and 102.4 per since D'Antoni took over.
A rather outrageous number when you consider the fact that Dwight Howard is in the paint. Injured and all.
Surrounded by lesser talent, D-12's Orlando Magic had a Top 10 defense in each of the past four seasons. Even still, D'Antoni can't seem to get the most out of his players defensively.
According to the numbers, STAT was right. The question is, do the numbers lie?