It took nearly 10 excruciating long months, but Joakim Noah is finally about to suit up for the Clippers and play a game for them.
Noah was signed to a 10-day contract by the Clippers back in March, but just days later, the NBA season was suspended, with Noah never getting an opportunity to play for LA. After it was announced the season would be resumed, the Clippers wasted no time in making sure they retained the center, as they signed him not only through the remainder of the 2020 season, but through the end of the 2021 season as well.
“Just to be around is blessing,” Noah said to reporters on Saturday. “This team really gave me hope. To be back in this position and to have the confidence from the organization. It’s a class organization. Now it’s just grind every day, and put ourselves in the best position as possible to win it.”
This isn’t Noah’s first rodeo with the Clippers. He actually had a chance to join the team prior to the start of the 2019-2020 season. Back in September, Noah worked out for the Clippers, but an injury to his achilles looked as if it ended any hope he had.
“In September, I had a freak accident and cut my achilles,” Noah said. “I told myself that’s not how I want to end my career. The day after the surgery, I was in the gym working out with the hope of making this team. If I didn’t keep training and if I got a call from the Clippers and I wasn’t ready, I knew I’d have regrets for the rest of my life.
“I kept training. To be in this position right now, I feel very fortunate. Being with great players, being in a position to win a championship, it’s not something I take for granted. We’re away from our families, but this is the price we have to pay.”
Head coach Doc Rivers spoke very highly of Noah, saying that he doesn’t think the stoppage helped any player more than him. “I think he’s going to help us on the floor,” Rivers said. “Even if he doesn’t, he’s going to help us with his presence and his voice. I think he’ll be invaluable to [Zubac].”
Noah has remain committed over the last four months with so much uncertainty, doing whatever it took to make sure he’d be ready to go when his name would be called.
“I just worked my ass off and stayed focused.”