Grizzlies Joakim Noah on why he’s happy to be back in NBA: ‘I love basketball’

Kurt Helin
NBC Sports

Joakim Noah is back in the NBA.

After an ill-fated few years in New York — where he was very well compensated and contributed very little, and eventually was bought out — Noah found himself out of basketball at the start of this season, unable to find a roster spot. That was until recently when the Memphis Grizzlies came calling, looking to add a little frontline depth behind Marc Gasol and impressive rookie Jaren Jackson Jr.

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Noah played nearly 13 up-and-down minutes, but in the second half had a couple of quality buckets and made some smart defensive plays. He fit in with the grinding, make-it-ugly style of play that has been Memphis’ calling card this season. After the game, he talked about how happy he was to be back on the court to David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“I just got here like two days ago,” Noah said. “I thought that [coach J.B. Bickerstaff] would wait at least until I knew the plays. I’m just happy that coach believes in me, put me in the game like that. It means a lot to me. With that said, I’m taking none of these moments for granted. Because all this time made me realize how much I love basketball.”

What came with Noah was a boost of energy, from the crowd and the player.

Did you see him?” Jackson said. “Oh yeah. He’s added energy from the moment he walked into this building. You can just feel it. He’s always hyped about whatever it is. Screaming, yelling, you saw it. All that. He’s doing everything. We love that. So that’s positive.”

Noah isn’t going to be asked to play a significant role, but if he can give the Grizzlies a solid 15 minutes a night off the bench it would be a big boost for their frontline depth. For a night it worked, we’ll see if he can play it out over time.

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