Amar’e Stoudemire: ‘I Was Never Taught Defense’

Stoudemire tells the NY press corps that he wasn’t properly coached on how to play defense (what up, Mike D’Antoni!), but that he’s made it a priority this season to defend and grab boards. From the NY Daily News: “Stoudemire says defense is more of a priority than at any point in his career as he proved on Wednesday with six blocked shots against the Bobcats. He’s still not a great one-on-one defender but Stoudemire produced the defensive play of the game by rejecting Stephen Jackson’s potential go-ahead dunk with 35 seconds left after Jackson had driven past Danilo Gallinari on the perimeter. ‘When trying to win ball games, defense is what does it,’ Stoudemire said. ‘Getting stops, getting rebounds … it’s imperative for me to bring that defensive intensity.’ The falling out D’Antoni and Stoudemire had in Phoenix centered on D’Antoni feeling that Stoudemire lacked focus on defense. The irony of course is that D’Antoni has a reputation for not stressing defense (although he’ll gladly debate anyone who says just that.) Stoudemire doesn’t argue that his reputation as a poor defensive player was well deserved and seemed to suggest that D’Antoni was indirectly responsible. ‘It was fair,’ he said. ‘I was never taught defense. I just never was taught it in high school and also in the NBA.’ Stoudemire added that prior to his final season with the Suns ‘I took it upon myself to get better defensively’ and that Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry was responsible for that new outlook. ‘I’ve got to give it to Alvin Gentry,’ Stoudemire added. ‘He really implemented some strategies that were helpful to me. I took what I learned last year and carried it over to this year.'”