While a lot of NBA superstars have been making waves hitting the streetball circuit this summer during the ongoing lockout, New York Knicks All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire has been notably absent from the headlines.
According to multiple reports the absence is due to Stoudemire still being limited from the back injury suffered before game two of team’s first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics back in April.
Lingering back injuries have derailed many careers and the nine year veteran’s health has given Knicks fans a cause for concern heading into the upcoming season.
The fear is compounded factoring in the Phoenix Suns’ reluctance to guarantee more than four years when Stoudemire hit free agency last summer due to durability issues.
However Stoudemire doesn’t believe the injury will force him to miss any on court action, even training camp, if the labor dispute ends and the 2012 campaign starts as scheduled.
“No question,” Stoudemire responded to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News on whether he’d be ready for the start of training camp. “I feel great. I feel good. I’ve been resting and rehabbing all summer. That’s my main priority.”
While most are focusing on the health issues, Stoudemire is thinking long term with his eyes set on bringing the Larry O’Brien championship trophy back to the Big Apple.
The six-time All-Star feels that in order to hoist the trophy his high powered offensive minded team must be willing to give equal effort on the defensive side of the ball.
“For us to win a championship, defense has to be a primary force,” Stoudemire said. “It has to be something that we focus in on. Everyone has to buy into it and everyone has to become much better [defensively].”
Improving defensively as a team is seemingly the theme of the offseason.
Last week embattled head coach Mike D’Antoni, known for his prowess producing high powered offensive attacks, hired former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson as his top assistant.
It is widely believed Woodson’s primary role is to improve overall team defense and implementing strategies to limit opposing offenses.
Stoudemire applauded the move by the team to bolster its coaching staff and feels the hire brings the club one step closer to its goal of winning a title.
“I think it’s great,” Stoudemire said. “It’s definitely what we talked about, improving defensively. With the help of Mike (Woodson) it’s going to be really positive for us. But it’s up to us as players to take that commitment and implement it.”
The Knicks allowed a whopping 105.7 points per game during the 2011 season, which was the second worst in the league, and more than any other team who made a playoff appearance.
[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
Walk the walk, STAT.