The Knicks have held training camp at West Point the last few years, and last night, the team dined with Army cadets:
But Joakim Noah didn’t participate.
“It’s hard for me a little bit – I have a lot of respect for the kids here fighting — but it’s hard for me to understand why we go to war and why kids have to kill kids all around the world,’’ Noah said. “I have mixed feeling about being here. I’m very proud of this country. I love America. I don’t understand kids killing kids around the world.’’
Noah received permission from Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek to skip the team function. He was the only member of the team not in attendance. Noah said his decision to skip the dinner and speech was not intended as a form of protest.
“It’s not my way of saying anything – I was not comfortable,’’ Noah said.
Noah has dual citizenship in the United States and France, the home of his father, Yannick Noah, the former tennis star. Noah admitted he’s “not very patriotic,’’ believing people should respect people more than “flags.’’
Noah’s view will be unpopular, but he has every right to hold it. There’s a growing current of people asking for more athlete activism, but people better realize: You might not always like the stance players take. For those who claim to value politically minded players, this is part of what you get.
Personally, I disagree with Noah. The Revolutionary War helped him secure the right to speak out on this. World War II kept his beloved France from being run by a tyrannical Nazi regime. Just because some wars are unjust doesn’t make all wars unjust. I also believe in honoring American soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms.
But I also respect Noah’s right to seek a comfortable situation for himself. Some people can be anti-war and easily separate the soldiers as individuals. For others, apparently including Noah, all war machinery is intertwined.
Keep in mind, Noah didn’t actively disparage any soldiers. He’s not seeking supporters for a cause. He just chose not participate in an event he never asked to be apart of.