In an interview with a Phoenix Suns TV program, Amare Stoudemire praises new coach Terry Porter while taking a backhanded swipe at Mike D’Antoni:
“I love Terry Porter, his method,” Stoudemire says in the interview. “His way of coaching is going to be great for us. You know, he’s extremely focused on the defensive end, something that we haven’t practiced at all in the previous three years, and now we’re definitely practicing and improving on the defensive end.”
Now from a team standpoint, I can almost believe STAT’s claim that D’Antoni didn’t practice defense. I’ve talked to Team USA players like D-Wade and Carlos Boozer about the way D’Antoni would perk up in practice when it came time to work on offense, but was almost invisible during defensive time. But never one defensive drill in three years? He didn’t have an assistant whose job was to focus on defense?
And if Amare is looking to blame D’Antoni for his own personal defensive deficiencies, he’s in the wrong. At the pro level, every player has to take it upon himself to improve individual parts of his game, including defense. I’m sure D’Antoni’s lessons didn’t include, “Stand straight up while Mehmet Okur blows by you for a dunk.”