Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — New York Knicks’ newly acquired center Joakim Noah added to what has become a year of protest in American sports by choosing to sit out a team dinner at the U.S. Military Academy that featured cadets and a speech by a former colonel for what he said are his anti-war views.
Noah, who was born in New York but also holds Swedish and French citizenship, said that his views reflected his concerns about war and the military, not a lack of patriotism for the U.S.
“I love America, but I just don’t understand kids killing kids around the world,” Noah said to the press on Saturday.
Noah added that he finds the topic particularly sad and difficult because it is primarily young people who fight in wars.
“At the end of the day, I’m not anti-troops. It’s just not comfortable for me to see kids going out to war and coming back having seen what they’ve seen, having done what they’ve done,” Noah told the media. “It’s sad for me. It’s sad for me because they’re just sent out for things that I don’t really want to get into it to be honest with you. It’s hard for me.”
Noah’s Twitter account has a political edge to it. Recently, he posted a quote from a 1964 Malcolm X speech.
“You are not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong no matter who says it or does it”-Malcolm x
— Joakim Noah (@JoakimNoah) September 7, 2016
His comments on war increased speculation among fans and analysts that the Knicks’ player might participate in the protest movement started by NFL 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The 2016 Gold Medal winner Carmelo Anthony, who is the Knicks’ starting small forward and the team’s most visible star, spoke last week about the team’s desire to address the issue of police shootings.
“We want to do it in the right way,” Anthony said. “Whatever we do, we want to do it as a collective group.”
Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule that states players must stand during the playing of the national anthem before all games, making the issue somewhat more complex. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a point guard for the Denver Nuggets, was fined for a protest of that nature in 1996.
This summer, Anthony advocated in a social media post that players protest police violence after the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
And, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr recently said that he expects “something similar” to the Kaepernick protests to happen when the NBA season starts.
Anthony, who is no stranger to acts of protest in his own right, supported his teammate when asked about Noah’s sitting out the military dinner.
“For him to take the stance that he took and really say it publicly and really mean it and really feel, then he’d have to really believe in that,” Anthony told the press. “I don’t think somebody is just going to say, ‘I’m not going to go just because of this without having a feeling or an emotion about it or really living that.’ That’s a big step for him to take. He must really feel the way that he feels and believes the way he believes.”
The NBA has a recent history of sports protest upon which to draw.
Cleveland Cavaliers stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving wore black T-shirts in 2014 that read “I Can’t Breathe” while warming up for a 2014 game in Brooklyn against the Nets. The Nets’ Jarrett Jack, Alan Anderson, Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett also wore the T-shirts, which referenced the last words of Eric Garner, a man who died in July of that year after a confrontation with an New York Police Department officer in Staten Island.
James addressed police violence again on his team’s media day last week when he said that he was afraid for the life of his son.
“I look at my son being four years removed from driving his own car and being able to leave the house on his own,” James said. “It’s a scary thought right now to think if my son gets pulled over, and you tell your kids if you just [comply] and you just listen to the police that they will be respectful and things will work itself out. And you see these videos that continue to come out. It’s a scary-a– situation that if my son calls me and said he’s been pulled over, that I’m not that confident that things are going to go well and that my son is going to return home.”
Noah, who was signed by New York in the off-season as free agent, is a nine-year veteran of the NBA who played the entirety of his career on the Chicago Bulls until now. His protest of the dinner, along with the presence on the team of former-Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose, who is battling a civil suit alleging he participated in the gang rape of a woman, has driven up the already-high level of media interest in the Knicks’ pre-season.
The Knicks’ first pre-season game is October 4th in Oct. in Houston.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Read More →