For the first time since Amare Stoudemire began training with Hakeem Olajuwon on Aug. 5, the Knicks power forward opened up about what it's been like inside the Hall of Famer's indoor basketball facility, located on his 500-acre ranch in Houston.
Stoudemire told Houston's FOX affiliate on Tuesday that he "can't wait" to bring his revamped post-up game to the court this season with the Knicks.
"There's always room to improve as a player. To want to be the best is always a common denominator for most players," he said. "So working with Hakeem, one of the best players to ever play the game, is a great opportunity for me. We are both very quick and athletic for our positions. So to learn from him will be a great advantage for me."
After Mike Woodson, Olajuwon's former teammate in Houston from 1988 to 1991, initiated the workout sessions to prepare Stoudemire for more time on the block, STAT was encouraged to add new down-low moves to his arsenal. He thought training with Olajuwon would give him a better chance to win multiple championships. The Knicks already have an established frontcourt with Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, but none of them have ever consistently excelled in the post.
Stoudemire is hoping to change that through his work with Olajuwon.
"He helped me a lot," STAT said. "A lot of moves that he has really, really translate to my game. To now develop a post game is going to be remarkable for me. It's going to catch a lot of my opponents off guard and it's going to be a great year for me."
However, Stoudemire said it hasn't come easy to learn from "The Dream," who had very unconventional movements for a big man. In addition, for much of STAT's career, he's scored in pick-and-roll or isolation situations, whether he was driving or shooting his trademark mid-range jumpshot from the free-throw elbow.
"I have the IQ to implement this and learn fast, but it's not easy," he said. "There's a lot of detail that goes into it. He's very, very swift with his footwork, and he's very agile also at 50 still. It's great to learn from him. This is a great opportunity because you never how long he's going to be able to do this. So while I'm young and can still learn from one of the best, I'm very blessed to be a part of it."
Not only is Stoudemire stoked about the season ahead, but Olajuwon is excited to see how his student looks in real competition.
"That's the most satisfying," said Olajuwon, who's trained Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and LeBron James in the past three summers. "Because when I watch the game and when I see them work on that and take the opportunity, I actually see the guys in their comfort zone. That's why you see they can't wait for their season to start."
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