Amare Stoudemire's joy comes in finding more basketball potential to tap. Sporting a "frohawk" hairstyle, he acts as his own smack-talking foe ("STAT, you can't miss two in a row, let alone three") and motivator ("It feels good coming off my hands") as he calls out that he is shooting from "kill spots."
"I feel fit and fierce," he said. "My health is tremendous. I have no worries about extra work. Before, I never wanted to overwork. I always wanted to do more, but I was coming back from injuries. I can do whatever I want on the court without second-guessing now."
Stoudemire said watching the U.S. team win the Olympic gold medal last month did not cause any second-guessing, either. Stoudemire was included in the national team program during his knee rehabilitation and would have had a spot in Beijing if he wanted it. He said his withdrawal this summer was not health-related.
"It had more to do with rest," Stoudemire said. "I love those guys. I love Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). I love all of the coaching staff. I just had to make an executive decision to rest up.
"When you're playing year-round four straight years, even though I had surgeries, playing year-round takes a toll on the your body, whether folks know it or see it or not. I want to make sure I maintain a long career. Hopefully, I'll be blessed enough to be back in the Olympics in 2012."
Stoudemire is equally sure about the Suns front office's decisions to hire Porter as head coach and pick up Robin Lopez, Matt Barnes and Goran Dragic.
"I couldn't be more ecstatic about the decision," Stoudemire said of the Porter hire. "He's very organized. He knows what it takes to win. He wants to be the champion. That falls into the category of the Stoudemire brand and also the Phoenix Suns brand. We want to be champions, whatever it takes to do it."
It will take more defense from Stoudemire, for starters.
"I want to be Ron Artest," Stoudemire said, explaining the focus of his recent work on defense, along with efficiency in his offensive moves.