On Wednesday, Knicks forward and matador defender Amar’e Stoudemire praised current Knicks head coach Mike Woodson as the first defensive coach he’s ever played for:

“I think having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help,” Stoudemire said after practice in Greenburgh on Wednesday. “I’ve never been taught defense in my whole career. So to now have a coach who actually teaches defense and teaches strategies and knows positioning and posture and how to guard different plays, it’s going to be helpful.”

“I’m taking it as a challenge,” he said. “I’m going to accept the challenge. And I’m going to try to improve as a player.”

The suggestive comments were a thinly-veiled shot at Stoudemire’s two-time former coach Mike D’Antoni, the offensive guru who was replaced by Mike Woodson midway through the 2011-12 season. However, when informed of Amar’e’s comments, and his new commitment to defense, D’Antoni took a few shots of his own:

“I think it’s great,” D’Antoni said Thursday after the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice. “I think it’s great that he’s listening. He might have forgotten that Mike Woodson was also running the defense the last year I was there, so I don’t know if he just didn’t pick that year to listen. But Amar’e’s great. Sometimes you say things, but hopefully, that’s another step he can take forward and help his game. That would be great.”

[Black Sports Online]