The message may not have been intentionally directed at Eddy Curry, but Amar'e Stoudemire's words were pointed when he was asked about the exhausting conditioning drills the team has been going through over the first three days of training camp.

"The great thing about this is the fact that we came in so early this summer, to where this doesn't feel hard to us," said Stoudemire, who seems to love this kind of stuff. "If we didn't come in early, this would feel like one of the hardest training camps I've ever been a part of. But all the guys are in shape."

Apparently, not all the guys. Curry, who was the last player to arrive at MSG Training Center before camp opened, spent the morning session on the sidelines watching because of tight hamstrings.

The strength and conditioning staff has put together a creative plan that involves several stations around the gym with old school style exercises such as carrying weighted bags, running with a harness tethered to the wall (sort of looks like that Phillip character Mike Myers used to play on SNL) and whipping two heavy ropes. You all know how crazy I am about P90X, so this morning I was itching to join in. It looked like fun. Good, hard, painful fun.


Actually, the Knicks workout this morning looked like the famous training montage from Rocky IV. Only this time, the Russian is one of the good guys (and strength coach Greg Brittenham had to stand on the rowing machine to keep Timofey Mozgov from pulling the thing across the gym. The team also opened the session by running sprints with an added twist: they tossed footballs to each other. Afterward, Mozgov was getting a lesson in how to pitch the pigskin from assistant coach (and proud alumn of The Ohio State University) Herb Williams, who at one point turned to a few reporters and yelled, "Buckeyes!"

The idea is to try to take the monotony out of the conditioning drills by making them fun and, in some cases, competitive. There was no one in the gym going through the motions here.

The objective, of course, is to have the best conditioned team in the league, which obviously should be the objective for every team. But the Knicks have to take full advantage of the system they play by ensuring they can run opponents ragged. You need players who can keep the pace without breaking down, especially through the dog days of the season.

"In January and February," Mike D'Antoni said, "this is going to pay off."