EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It's a shame that the Los Angeles Lakers' two-game season series with the New York Knicks is already in the books, because the pregame handshake between Amar'e Stoudemire and his former coach Mike D'Antoni would be interesting to watch these days.
Stoudemire, who recently returned after missing the first 30 games of the season with a knee injury, criticized D'Antoni for his lack of defensive coaching in their time together. D'Antoni coached Stoudemire for five seasons with the Phoenix Suns and an additional season and a half with the Knicks.
"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."
Stoudemire told reporters Wednesday that "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."
Added D'Antoni on Friday: "I mean, come on. He just threw Frank Johnson, myself, Alvin Gentry and actually Mike Woodson [under the bus]. Was [Woodson] saving the good stuff? Because he coached him eight months and he was the defensive coach. So it was like, 'You know, I won't tell him that, I'll save that until I really coach him.' It doesn't make any sense.
"Anyway, a lot of times players will say things just to say things. I have a good relationship with him. He's a good guy and I hope him the best. You know, if he's learning, great. He needs it. That would be super."
"It just boggles the mind," D'Antoni said, shaking his head. "It just boggles the mind."