WEST POINT, N.Y. — Joakim Noah made his first appearance at training camp Wednesday, and provided the Knicks with some things that Carmelo Anthony said they have sorely been missing.
Known for his intensity and passion, Noah brought that as well as an accountability that Anthony believes will lift the Knicks.
“He brings a different dynamic to the court,” Anthony said after practice at West Point. “Mentally, he pushes you. He forces you to compete at a high level every time on the basketball court. Everybody. Whether you’re the 14th, 15th man on the team or myself or Derrick [Rose] or anybody else.
“He pushes you to go out there and compete every play, every time. If not, you’re going to hear about it. I think that’s something we’ve been missing, this team needed, this organization needed and I like it. We like it.”
The Knicks signed Noah, who was excused from the team the past couple of days for the birth of his first child, a daughter, to a four-year, $72-million contract in July to be their defensive anchor. But they also believe his overall skills and personality would push them back into playoff contention.
Noah was the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but he has been injury plagued the past two seasons.
He missed 53 games last season, all but one of them because of a dislocated shoulder that required surgery. Noah said he feels good, but he still does different exercises to keep his shoulder, knees and feet strong and healthy.
Noah is hoping for a bounce-back season. He could have extra motivation after Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said they “felt Noah wasn’t going to be a front-line guy anymore.” Noah called it “a low blow.”
“It’s all right, he’s entitled to his opinion,” Noah said. “I feel like I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me, that’s all that matters. I know that I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow. But at the end of the day I have nothing but respect for that organization. I’m just excited for this new chapter in my career.”
Anthony has said he’s never played with an explosive point guard such as Rose and loves the intangibles Noah brings. These reinforcements have Anthony already looking forward to opening night against LeBron James and the NBA champion Cavaliers.
“We’re excited,” Anthony said. “We’re going to be ready to rock. We still have some ways to go but that’s a good, big opening night for us, for them, for the NBA, for fans, for everybody. New York-Cleveland now, that’s a big game now.”
For the Knicks to be as good as Anthony thinks they will be, they need Noah to bring out the best in his teammates.
“He’s going to bring it,” Anthony said. “If you’re not on his team, you’re an enemy. I think that mentality, that’s going to kind of trickle down to everybody else.
“It’s a different mindset that you’ve got to have coming into the game, going into practice. Even in practice, if you’re not on his team, if you’re not on the blue or white team with him, you’re an enemy. That keeps the competitive edge for everybody out there.”