Last month, forward Amar’e Stoudemire spent two weeks with Olajuwon at his ranch refining his ability to become a scorer in the low post. The training went so well, and Stoudemire’s praise for Olajuwon was so high, that Mike Woodson, about to begin his first full season as the Knicks’ coach, asked Olajuwon to work out more with Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby and the Knicks’ other big men. Olajuwon agreed to help, and he will spend at least a few days next week in New York.
It was Woodson, a teammate of Olajuwon’s for two years, who asked Stoudemire to learn from Olajuwon. When Stoudemire returned from his trip, he said Olajuwon showed him a number of back-to-the-basket moves.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to put the ball in my hands more,” Stoudemire said of Woodson a month ago. “It was important for him to develop me as a post player, and I was willing and ready.”
Now Woodson wants all his frontcourt players to work with Olajuwon.
Much of the Knicks’ success this season will depend upon Anthony, Chandler and Stoudemire finding better balance on offense. In June, Phil Jackson, the former Los Angeles Lakers coach, said Anthony and Stoudemire did not fit well together as an offensive pairing. Jackson also said he did not want to become the Knicks’ coach after retiring in 2011, calling the team clumsily constructed.
The Knicks are now Woodson’s team, and it seems he is focused on making Anthony, Chandler and Stoudemire develop a stronger rhythm on the court. To do that, he will seek a little help from an old friend.