For those that don’t know, Joakim Noah‘s father was a tennis stud. Yannick Noah is a former No. 3 player in the world, he racked up 23 singles titles and 16 doubles titles in his career, and he remains the last Frenchman to win the French Open. Not shockingly, he’s been hanging out in Queens the last week at the U.S. Open.
That’s where George Willis of the New York Post caught up with Yannick to talk about his son, who grew up in New York and this season will play for the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
“It means the world to him,” the elder Noah said of Joakim joining the Knicks. “We used to go to the Garden when he was a kid, watching games, watching Patrick [Ewing] play. To know that he’s going to play in the Garden, we feel so blessed. He’s preparing hard. He has a lot of hope and he can’t wait. And I’ll be there.”
Knicks fans will love him and treat him as one of their own. At least at first. If things go sideways in the Garden, all bets are off.
Some guys can get caught up in the distractions New York offers, but Noah will not have that problem, according to his father.
“He knows the city,” Yannick Noah said. “He was born here. It’s not like he’s coming from the countryside and he’s coming to New York City. He lived here for a long time. Of course, it can be dangerous for an athlete. But he knows and he’s so motivated. It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s going to give all he has for the city.”
If the Knicks can keep their starting five healthy they should be a playoff team in the East. But that’s a big if with Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Noah — there have been a fair amount of injuries in that group in recent years. It’s also going to be interesting to see how that group will play in new coach Jeff Hornacek’s preferred up-tempo style.
But don’t be shocked if Noah has a bit of a bounce back year now that he’s at home. If he can just stay on the court.