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When Joakim Noah injured his left shoulder for the second time in 2015-16 back in January, causing a separation that would knock him out for the season, it effectively ended his time with the Chicago Bulls. Noah said all the right things about keeping his free agency options open, but after a season-long clash with rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg, it was more than understandable that Noah would want to walk away from the team he’d already given so much to.
His prize for doing so? Four years and $72 million with his hometown New York Knicks, and a chance to play under the similarly-minded Knick president Phil Jackson. The NYK el jefe apparently had no qualms in handing big money to Noah until Joakim’s age 35 year, despite a series of foot, knee and now shoulder injuries that have dogged his career of late.
According to Jackson, who met the media for the first time since the NBA’s free agency period on Saturday, Noah had a rather Joakim-like way of convincing Phil that everything was going to be just fine with his left shoulder:
Phil Jackson said he previously ran into Noah in NYC streets. To prove he was healthy, Noah told Jackson to do pull-ups hanging from his arm
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) July 2, 2016
Jackson said at some point earlier this spring he had a chance encounter with his new center. “I ran into him on the streets of New York City. Just accidental — he’s out and he’s an active guy. So he wanted me to do a pull up on his arm to demonstrate that his shoulder’s in fine shape. I refused.” Jackson joked that the meeting helped ease his mind about Noah’s health.
If this is true – and we have no reason to believe that it isn’t considering the two goofballs involved – this had to have nearly been the weirdest NBA tampering violation of all time.
Technically, Noah was still under contract with Chicago until midnight hit on Friday morning. This means the NBA could have been well within its rights to fine the Knicks, because their Hall of Fame president did a few reverse pull-ups on Joakim Noah’s arm.
It almost makes you wish Phil Jackson accepted Noah’s request. Instead, Joakim will just have to be satisfied with four years, and $72 million. The time for giving rides to the 70-year old Jackson will have to come later.
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