GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Joakim Noah apologized to his teammates and the Knicks organization on Tuesday for being suspended 20 games for taking a banned supplement.
He said he feels the suspension was “severe,” but hopes to start serving it Wednesday night when the Knicks host the Heat at Madison Square Garden.
Noah, who had left knee surgery Feb. 27, was cleared by Knicks doctors Monday night to resume playing. He went through Tuesday’s light practice.
If the NBA gives Noah clearance before the Knicks play Miami, he would miss the final eight games of this season and the first 12 next season.
“I made a mistake,” Noah said. “It was a tough year for me, for this team. I want to start by apologizing to my teammates, to the Knicks, to the organization. I let a lot of people down. It was a mistake. And I got to learn from it and bounce back. This is a tough moment and I’m going to learn from it.”
The league suspended Noah on Saturday for testing positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033. The over-the-counter supplement that has been banned by other professional sports leagues has anabolic properties but doesn’t have the same side effects as a steroid.
Noah said he bought the supplement on his own and that the Knicks weren’t involved. He said has been taking it for a while to help his recovery from injuries. He also has had ankle and hamstring injuries this season. Noah played just 29 games last season for the Bulls due to a separated shoulder.
“I tried to take a supplement to help me with everything that I was going through,” Noah said. “I’ve gone through a lot of injuries and I tried to take something to help me and it backfired. So I know. It didn’t come from a bad place. I was working with the league on this for a while. I think that I got punished — 20 games is severe. But it is what it is and I got to bounce back.”
Noah never lived up to expectations after the Knicks signed him to a four-year, $72 million contract last summer. Noah has appeared in only 46 games this season, averaging 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds. He hasn’t played since Feb. 4.
It’s unclear how long Noah had been taking the supplement or when he tested positive. But he indicated he went through “a long process” with the league.
The NBA Players Association said that Noah “did not intentionally or knowingly violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement.” But the union and Noah won’t appeal the suspension, which they could have under the new CBA, which takes effect July 1. Noah understands he should have done more research on what he was taking.
“You have to be careful with these supplements,” Noah said. “I wanted to do something to help myself, help my body. And it backfired. I tried to take the right measures when I was taking supplements. And it wasn’t enough.
“It’s a tough lesson to learn. But everything in life has its purpose. I know that right now it’s a tough situation to be in, not being there with my teammates out there on the court, but I’m going to take the suspension like a man and move on.”