New York Knicks center Joakim Noah spoke about his tumultuous 2016-17 season and what things will be like moving forward.
Joakim Noah had the worst season of his career in 2016-17. In addition to his mediocre performance and injury problems, the man who brought Noah in on a controversial $72 million contract – Phil Jackson – was fired in June.
The 32-year-old opened up in a lengthy conversation on the “Truth Barrel” podcast. Per Marc Berman of The New York Post, Noah admits he “lost his confidence” and his PED suspension will haunt him for the rest of his career.
Some of the most revealing statements Noah made in the interview were about Jackson. The Zen Master really believed in Noah. He saw the former Defensive Player of the Year as a centerpiece of the triangle offense. So much for that.
“It’s tough, man, because I got a lot of love and respect for Phil,’’ Noah said. “He gave me an opportunity to play back home. Somebody I read all his books as a kid. I was just a big fan and still am. I have a lot of respect for him. It didn’t work out. That sucks. It’s something I have to live with. He believed in me, and I kind of let him down. That’s frustrating. He got a lot of blame that it was his fault. But we didn’t lose all those games because of Phil Jackson.’’
Noah was apologetic in explaining his 20 game suspension for PEDs.
“I thought I could take something that could help me that wasn’t on the banned list,’’ Noah said, “and it was contaminated with some s–t that was banned. It was really, really rough. It was over the counter. I usually go through the team doctors, and I kind of went and did it my way and it affected a lot of people, a lot of loved ones and my family. It was more than me and my reputation. It sucked to see how many people it hurt. That’s something I have to live with the rest of my career.’’
Noah still has 12 games remaining on his suspension. He spoke about how he plans to redeem himself next season despite missing the early portion of the year.
“I went through a lot of adversity,’’ Noah said. “You go through injuries. I lost my confidence this year. It’s about bouncing back and showing who I am through these tough times. It can really show what you’re made of.
He expressed doubt when talking about his role for the upcoming season. Once considered a lock for the starting lineup, the emergence of Willy Hernangomez has made that uncertain.
“I still have a lot of mountains to climb,’’ Noah added. “My role, I don’t know what it’s going to be. I don’t know what’s coming. I want to be as ready as possible.’’