NBA

Teammates Defend Joakim Noah Amidst Controversy Over West Point Dinner

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Joakim Noah has found himself at the center of some controversy recently. Noah skipped a team dinner with the West Point military academy, a move that has angered some, especially given the recent protests in sports over social justice in America.

Noah explained that he skipped the dinner not out of a hatred of soldiers or military personnel, but out of a strong anti-war stance. That hasn’t stopped some from criticizing him. Now his teammates are coming to his defense.

Derrick Rose, who played with Noah when they were both in Chicago, spoke up first:

That’s him and I respect him for it. That’s the last thing he wants is to make a certain group feel a certain way. But that’s who he is. Like his heart, and how careful he is and how thoughtful he is about people.

I just don’t want people to paint an image of him who he’s not. He’s a caring guy, a loving guy, and the last thing he wants is the attention that’s coming to him from everywhere about him about anti. And that’s something he’s not. But of course people are going to run with it and make their own stories, but the people on this team and everybody on this staff, everybody knows his heart and that’s the only thing he cares about.

Carmelo Anthony also weighed in:

All athletes are human beings and they have their own beliefs.

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. I don’t think somebody’s just going to say, ‘I’m not going to go’ just because of this or just because of that 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.

Noah has a unique perspective that many others don’t. Born in America to a Swedish mother and a French father, Noah holds citizenship with three different countries and has lived all over the world. It’s not surprising, then, that he values people and their actions over flags and borders. That might not sit right with some people, but those people don’t have the same world experience Noah has to inform their perspective.

As for future protests, Noah says the team still hasn’t decided what they’ll do.

We’re all thinking. But it’s not about dividing people. It’s about uniting people and finding solutions. If you’re asking me personally, you know, flags, patriotism and all that, I’m not really into that. I come from a lot of different places. I don’t feel like one country is better than another one, or that I’m ready to die for a flag or a country. I’m not like that. I’ve never really been into, never really understood, patriotism, but at the end of the day, I understand.

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