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Amare Stoudemire, from experience, with wise words for Hassan Whiteside

For a big man, Amare Stoudemire has always been a pretty fair free throw shooter -- from 66.1 percent in his rookie season to 76.1 percent for his career. 

So he can't necessarily relate to what Hassan Whiteside may face going forward, now that Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell, by intentional fouling, has brought light to Whiteside's foul shooting flaws. 

But Stoudemire is a good source of knowledge in another sense. For nearly a decade, and especially before enduring major injuries, Stoudemire was one of the game's most dominant bigs. And unlike Whiteside, he was a force from the start of his career, averaging 13.5 points and 8.8 rebounds as a 20-year-old rookie for the Suns, and progressing to 20.6 points and 9.0 rebounds in his second season.

He got plenty of accolades, but also plenty of attention from opponents, the sort of attention Whiteside is getting now.  

So how did Stoudemire handle it?

"I worked my weaknesses, that's all I did," he said. "I knew after a while teams were going to start keying in on me, figuring out what I do best, so I started working my weaknesses, watching more film, trying to sharpen my technique on a few things. I just kept improving."

When did he think teams started to focus on him?

"It was starting my rookie year," he said. "After the game I had against (Kevin) Garnett, when I exploded for a big game."

He had 38 points and 14 rebounds in a Dec. 30, 2002 loss to Minnesota.

"A lot of teams started to realize that I was going to be a force, so they started taking away a few of my actions," he continued. "So I had to pretty much had to open up my game a lot more."

How does that apply to Whiteside?

"Obviously, me and Hassan have two different styles of games," Stoudemire said. "But I do think teams are going to start keying in on him more, try to stop him from rolling to the basket and getting those lobs. But I think as you watch film, and as he grows more, I think he'll realize there are other ways to dominate the game."

What about when he's not getting calls?

"Well, that's gonna be a little frustrating at times, because you feel like you're getting fouled more times than not," he said. "So it's going to take more effort in the weight room and just staying strong and knowing where guys are gonna be, and what their plans are towards you, and use that to your advantage."

Whiteside's foul rate is way down, from 4.1 to 2.5 fouls per 36 minutes.

When did Stoudemire believe he'd earned the officials' respect?

"Oh man, it took some time," he said. "I was one of those players where I was very emotional. So I don't know if they were as used to that. So it took a while for them to get used to my emotions on the court. But once I was an All-Star a few times, they realized this kid is going to be around for a while."

They were right -- 13 years later, still in the league, if only in one game so far this season. 


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