Excessive partying may have been responsible for Joakim Noah‘s downfall in New York, the former Knicks center says in an interview with Chris Vernon of Grind City Media (hat tip to Chris Iseman of USA Today).
Noah has looked much better since signing with the Grizzlies last week, averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds through five games. While those are modest numbers, they are far better than what he posted during two frustrating years with the Knicks.
“I remember after the first game (in New York) I probably had like 60 people in my house,” Noah said. “I’m too lit to play in New York City. Memphis is perfect for me.”
Noah, 33, admits he had the same party habits earlier in his career, but added, “We were lit in Chicago, but I was young. You recover faster, you know?”
Noah was a two-time All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year with the Bulls before receiving a four-year, $72MM offer to join the Knicks in 2016. He battled injuries in his first season with the team, appearing in 46 games, then played just seven more last year before being suspended following an altercation with former New York coach Jeff Hornacek in practice.
The Knicks waived Noah before the start of this season, using the stretch provision on the remainder of his contract.
“It happened so fast,” Noah recalled. “One year I’m playing 35 minutes a game. And then injuries started piling up. I got this crazy deal with the Knicks, and then the next thing you know I’m not playing anymore. Get kicked off the team. It was a crazy time. I wasn’t sure I was gonna get an opportunity to play again.”
Noah believes he was able to save his career by leaving New York after being released and heading to California to dedicate himself to getting back into game shape. If he can rediscover the all-around skills he displayed in Chicago, Noah could be a valuable backup for the Grizzlies as they fight for a playoff spot.
“I got the call from Memphis. … I decided that this was a good fit,” Noah said. “I’m just really, really happy to be here.”