Amar'e Stoudemire's back still sore after injury in Celtics series; was 'shocked' by Walsh's exit

An NBA lockout would hurt Amar'e Stoudemire financially but might be beneficial to his overall well-being.

The Knicks' All-Star power forward revealed Wednesday that he continues to experience back pain nearly two months after originally sustaining an injury on April 19 before Game 2 of the playoffs against Boston.

"It's still tight," said Stoudemire, who was injured during a pregame dunk. "It's still pretty tight. It was pretty serious. It's a muscle that takes a while to heal."

Stoudemire, 28, played Games 3 and 4 of the Knicks' first-round series despite the back injury and says he wouldn't have taken himself out of the lineup had the team advanced.

"I would have played," Stoudemire said, "but it probably wouldn't have been smart."

Stoudemire's health has been a concern since the Knicks signed him to a $100 million contract last July. His contract is uninsured because of his history of knee and eye issues. Stoudemire is optimistic that he'll be ready for training camp, whenever that begins.

A lockout could postpone the start of the season. Stoudemire said that he and Carmelo Anthony have already discussed getting together for workouts next month in Los Angeles. In the event of a lockout, players would be barred from training with NBA coaches and trainers, and at league facilities.

Stoudemire was at Chelsea Piers Wednesday to announce his partnership with Excedrin for its "What's Your Headache?" contest and meet with the winner. In his first public comments since Donnie Walsh announced he was stepping down as Knicks president on June 30, Stoudemire said he was "shocked" by the decision.

"But after talking to Mr. Walsh he felt positive about the situation which made me feel more positive about it," Stoudemire said. "I talked to Mr. (James) Dolan and he felt comfortable with the situation. We still have a great organization and a great chance to win a championship.

"I do think Donnie is a basketball mind so he's going to be in the game of basketball for years to come. I have no control over what the front office does, but from the time I've been here, Donnie's been great. I'll continue to talk and deal with him for the rest of my career. I think we'll be OK next season because Donnie will be around consulting."

Stoudemire also praised the Dallas Mavericks for winning the NBA title this week and for doing a good job of "harassing" LeBron James. In fact, the Mavs' success reinforced Stoudemire's belief that the Knicks, a team that hasn't been known for defense for more than 10 years, needs to focus on performing at both ends of the court.

"For us, no question, it's about focusing in on how important defense is," he said. "We have to focus in on that angle and that angle only. Offense is no problem, but defense is where we have to focus in on."

Stoudemire says he wasn't referring to Mike D'Antoni even though the Knicks coach has been taken to task for not emphasizing defense, a criticism that dates back to his days coaching Stoudemire with the Suns.

The Suns' top three rivals in the Western Conference have all won a title within the last five years, and they all did it with a commitment to defense.

"All the teams we battled with in Phoenix ended up winning the championship except for us," Stoudemire said. "I figured if we stayed together for one year it would have happened. The Lakers, Spurs, Mavs. Each of those teams won a championship. Now we're on the East Coast in New York. It's our turn to win a championship."

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Smh @ the Bumston only beating us because of injuries