Joakim Noah can feel the excitement and pressure of arriving in New York to play for the title-deprived Knicks.
“There’s definitely a buzz in the city. I think it’s on us to make it work,” Noah said, via the New York Daily News. “Winning in the Garden, I’m not gonna get a feeling like that anywhere else. I’m not here to just get a check and be happy. I want to be an animal. I want to make the city proud.”
Noah, 31, signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Knicks, the team he grew up idolizing. The two-time All-Star arrives in New York after winning two national titles at the University of Florida and nine largely successful NBA seasons with the Chicago Bulls.
Noah plans to give it all for the Knicks, a franchise that hasn’t been to the NBA Finals since 1999 or won an NBA title since 1973.
“I’m going to be very passionate about this. And I always have been and always will,” Noah said. “This is where I want to end my career, (play) ’til the wheels fall off. Playing in this uniform means everything to me.”
Over nine seasons in Chicago, Noah averaged 9.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. He made three NBA All-Defensive teams, while also winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.
As a kid in New York, Noah drew basketball inspiration from former Knicks such as Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Marcus Camby and Anthony Mason.
“I had their jerseys. I had those guys’ pictures on my wall,” Noah said. “And to me, even though none of those guys won a championship, I know what they mean to the city, because I’m from here. I know the love that Latrell Sprewell gets when he walks around the city.”
Noah will get more than love in New York City if he’s able to help turn the Knicks back into a title contender. With Noah and Derrick Rose joining Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks are slowly approaching legitimacy in the Eastern Conference.