It obviously worked for LeBron James, so Amar’e Stoudemire figured he had nothing to lose by trying for himself.
The New York Knicks big man fancies himself vastly improved after spending two weeks in Texas with Hall of Fame center Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon. Hoping to become a stronger offensive force for the Knicks this coming, Stoudemire focused the time on improving his post play and ability to score in the low post.
Olajuwon, who paced the Houston Rockets to consecutive NBA titles in the mid-1990s, was renowned for his deft skills, smooth touch and excellent footwork in the post. A year ago, it was James who came to Texas seeking his counsel on how to improve his post play. He went on to win another MVP title, not to mention his first NBA championship and another Olympic gold medal.
The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Stoudemire would love for a similar endgame, but isn’t foolish enough to make any such promises just yet. He was, however, very pleased with his crash course with Olajuwon and hopes to begin showcasing all he’s learned when the Knicks open training camp in October.
That would come as welcome news to Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who will begin his first full season as the team’s coach after taking over in midseason for the fired Mike D’Antoni. Woodson’s more traditional inside-out offensive approach is predicated on having a consistent scoring threat down low to make defenses react.
A six-time NBA All-Star, Stoudemire is coming off the most challenging season of his nine years in the league, both personally and professionally. He and fellow superstar Carmelo Anthony never jelled last year, and that frustration reached a boil when Stoudemire punched a glass fire-extinguisher during the team’s first-round playoff loss to the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat. Injuries limited Stoudemire to just 47 games during the regular season, but he suffered his greatest loss with the death of an older brother in February.
Stoudemire averaged 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Knicks last year.