Stoudemire spent his time focused on post play, looking to improve his ability to score in the low post and become a stronger offensive force for the .
He called the results of his crash course with Olajuwon phenomenal. Knicks fans will have to wait until October’s training camp to see the benefits.
“I’m looking forward to showing my opponents my moves that I’ve been working with Hakeem,” said Stoudemire, who did not go into detail about what Olajuwon showed him. “There are so many moves I picked up from Hakeem.”
Mike Woodson wants to incorporate a more traditional inside-out approach on offense in his first full season as the coach, and to do that most effectively, he needs Stoudemire to be more of a threat in the low post. Woodson, a teammate of Olajuwon’s in Houston, helped put Stoudemire in touch with Olajuwon.
Stoudemire realized he had to elevate and expand his performance after a difficult 2011-12 campaign, on and off the court. He came into camp last year a bit out of shape. His older brother, Hazell, was killed in a car accident in February. He missed time toward the end of the lockout-shortened season with a bulging disk in his back.
“The hardest season I had in my career,” Stoudemire said. “It was a tough year for me.”
By the time the Knicks fought their way to a playoff spot, the frustration had reached a breaking point for Stoudemire, who cut his hand when he punched a glass fire-extinguisher cover after a Game 2 loss on the road to the Miami Heat.
“Falling short in the first round of the playoffs is not what I do,” he said. “I’ve built my career on going deep in the playoffs.”
Woodson’s offensive game plan is a change from Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense.
When Woodson took over for D’Antoni last March, the Knicks gave the ball — and essentially the offense — to Carmelo Anthony. When Stoudemire and Anthony are in the starting lineup, the Knicks have a losing record.
“It’s not the fact that me and Carmelo are not jelling,” said Stoudemire, who was in Manhattan promoting his children’s book “STAT: Home Court,” adding, “We are trying to build a championship-caliber team, and it takes a lot of changes to get to that point.”
Point guard Raymond Felton will be the person most responsible for getting Stoudemire the ball. Stoudemire knows Felton will look for him to run the pick-and-roll at times, but being in the post more should give him an advantage. But before he could work with Felton, Stoudemire knew he had his own work to do. He found a mentor in Olajuwon. The two talked a lot during their two weeks together. Olajuwon had messages for his student, although Stoudemire wanted to keep his teacher’s words to himself. Then, Stoudemire made sure he explained why he took his time with Olajuwon seriously.
“My motivation,” he said, “is to become a better player.”