Knicks: A Dentist Brought Joakim Noah And Phil Jackson Together

Nov 18, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) watches the game against the Phoenix Suns from the bench at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Bulls won 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 18, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) watches the game against the Phoenix Suns from the bench at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Bulls won 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

A dentist is responsible for the unique relationship shared by Joakim Noah and Phil Jackson. One of the most improbable New York Knicks stories you’ll ever hear.

A dentist brought Joakim Noah to the New York Knicks. All right, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but without Dr. Daniel Rudolph, Noah and Phil Jackson may have never united in basketball or life.

That’s the human element of basketball at its very finest, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s no secret that Jackson signed Noah to a four-year deal worth $72 million this past offseason. One of the more understated truths in New York, however, is just how close Jackson and Noah have become.

According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, that all started with a broken tooth.

"“When Phil went to California, he got another dentist there,” Rudolph says. “But when he broke a tooth here, I fixed his tooth here.”"

And the rest was unbelievable history.

Years later, Rudolph acquired another client with roots in New York and a career in Chicago: Noah. Almost immediately, he saw in Noah what he saw in Jackson and quickly moved to introduce the two charismatic figures.

Rudolph describes the two as kindred spirits, which certainly appears true when reading this unbelievable story.

"“I took the plane, went to Montana, I knock on his door and we start talking,” Noah said last month. “He goes, ‘Why are you here?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’“It was a great couple of days. I got an opportunity to meet one of the legends and spend time with him, it was great. Life works in mysterious ways. Now we’re here.”"

That’s not exactly a common NBA story.

Much like Noah with the Florida Gators and Chicago Bulls, Jackson did the dirty work for the Knicks. He helped New York win the 1973 NBA championship with his tenacity, toughness, and relentless work ethic.

Noah did much of the same in Chicago, albeit with a longer list of accolades.

In 2013-14, Noah won Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-NBA First Team. He became just the second center to average at least 5.0 assists per game since the 1980s and made his second career All-Star Game appearance.

Beyond the basketball, Dr. Rudolph sees exactly why Jackson signed Noah this past offseason.

"“You’re exposed to a different type of person in the NBA. Phil is a different type of person. And I think Joakim wanted to expand his universe,” Rudolph says."

Noah’s appreciation for Jackson dates back to when his father, 1983 French Open champion Yannick Noah, made him read The Zen Master’s books.

"“My father used to make me read (Jackson’s) books when I was a kid,” Noah says. “I hate reading books but I read his books.”"

I suppose life truly does come full circle.

Jackson and Noah are two philosophical individuals who love basketball and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the victory. They’re both beloved teammates, deep thinkers, and passionate basketball minds.

If nothing else, Noah should help Knicks fans get a taste of the revered 1970s and 1990s again.

Noah, like the Willis Reed led Knicks of the 1970s and the Patrick Ewing led Knicks of the 1990s, plays without fear. He’ll get physical on both ends, never quits on a possession, and performs with incomparable ambition.

Dr. Rudolph believes that Noah, a New York native, will be a fan favorite whom franchise player Carmelo Anthony will adore playing with.

"“I think No. 1, it’s great for New York. I think Joakim wants to show off in front of his home crowd. I think he will be a fan favorite, because they’re going to love his hustle,” he says. “And he has the best attributes for a teammate. You want to play with a guy who does all the dirty work and passes the ball. That’s him. You don’t think Melo is going to love that?”"

Anthony, like the rest of New York, will love an individual who’s going to be, “An animal for this city.”

Knicks fans have endured a grueling 15 years since the disappointing departure of head coach Jeff Van Gundy. New York hasn’t made it past the second round since his departure and only has four postseason appearances in that 15-year stretch.

Noah’s intensity and leadership could play a defining role in the Knicks escaping the grasp of misfortune.

must read: Joakim Noah is ready for the other side of the Knicks-Bulls rivalry

And it all started with a dentist.