For the last few years, the New York Knicks have held their training camp at West Point, home of the United States Military Academy. On Tuesday night, the team had dinner with Army cadets, and newly signed Knicks center Joakim Noah chose not to attend the dinner, saying that he “felt uncomfortable.”
He elaborated to the New York Post:
“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. 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 head coach Jeff Hornacek, who had no issue with Noah choosing to sit the dinner out.
“It’s his right,’’ Hornacek said. “We want him part of the team group. He just didn’t feel comfortable. We’re not going to pressure him into doing that. We had a speaker who I thought was fantastic. I told him maybe I can get him a copy of the speech, so he can hear some of it. It’s his right. That’s fine.
“With all his stuff he does against gun violence, it’s plenty fine with us.’’
Noah made it clear that he wasn’t protesting anything and doesn’t believe that his absence will affect any team bonding moving forward. New York’s new man in the middle hasn’t said anything about whether he’ll take a stance similar to Colin Kaepernick during the season, but he does have a non-profit that, in part, fights gun violence in Chicago.
“It’s very important right now for athletes to take a stand, but it has to be more than that,’’ Noah said. “The violence in this country is out of control.’’
There’s nothing wrong with Noah sitting out of the dinner as Hornacek said, and his decision not to go shouldn’t be taken as a stance against the military, or the country. It’s just a man exercising his right not to appear at an event he feels uncomfortable attending.