Ama’re Stoudemire laughed and said, “Really?” when he was told Mike D’Antoni said Stoudemire threw all of his former coaches under the bus when he said this was the first time in his career he’s being taught defense.
“It was taken out of context,” Stoudemire said. “It wasn’t really to be exaggerated as much as it was - just from the simple fact Coach Woodson is a defensive coach. He’s known to be a defensive coach. The strategies that he’s teaching me now, it’s different than what I’ve learned before. And he puts a lot of emphasis on the defensive end, more than I ever had before.
“It wasn’t a knock on any of my previous coaches because I had great success with coach D’Antoni. What we were doing, I had to do something right because we won many games. But it was more a compliment to coach Woodson.”
Woodson sat with Stoudemire on the flight to Orlando to go over film and defensive strategies and principles.
Woodson said he would start the same way tonight against the Magic: Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby and Carmelo Anthony.
Stoudemire honored his late older brother, Hazell, by providing 30 children from their hometown of Lake Wales tickets and transportation to tonight’s game. Hazell Stoudemire, who died in a car accident last Feb. 6, would have celebrated his birthday Friday.
"I’ve got 30 kids coming in on a charter bus from my hometown - Lake Wells, Florida," Stoudemire said. "Give them a chance to watch a fun game and I get a chance to chat with them after the game about the importance of education and what it takes to succeed. So it’s very important for them, too.
"I know they look up to me, coming from the same town that they’re from and the success that I’ve had in my career. So I make sure I can plant seeds in them so they can grow on a tree that bears fruit."