New York Knicks: Joakim Noah Holding Teammates Accountable

Apr 13, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) sits on the bench during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) sits on the bench during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

It took just one practice for new addition Joakim Noah to hold his New York Knicks teammates accountable. Intensity shouldn’t be a problem in 2016-17.

Joakim Noah is the player whom every opposing fan base loves to hate. His intensity and fearlessness are infectious for his teammates and overwhelming for his opponents, which is exactly why Phil Jackson signed him this past summer.

It’s not about the statistics he can provide or the accolades he’s compiled; Noah is a leader, and there aren’t many of them.

A fan favorite in Chicago and a loathed persona elsewhere, Noah has pieced together an outstanding nine-year NBA career. He won Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-NBA First Team in 2013-14, and is a two-time All-Star and three-time All-Defensive Team honoree.

According to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, it took just one practice for franchise player Carmelo Anthony to understand why Noah is such a valuable player to have in the locker room.

"“He brings a different dynamic to the court,” Anthony said after Noah’s first practice with the New York Knicks. “Mentally, he pushes you; he forces you to compete at a high level every time on the basketball court. Everybody. Whether you’re the 14th, 15th man on the team, or myself, or Derrick [Rose] or anybody else.“Like, he pushes you to go out there and compete every play. If not, you’re going to hear about. I think that’s something we’ve been missing, this team needed, this organization needed and I like it. We like it.”"

The 2016-17 Knicks are beginning to sound like the teams of the 1990s.

Noah, 31, has 572 regular season and 60 postseason games of NBA experience. He helped the Bulls reach the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals and has made it beyond the first round in three of the past six seasons.

Though Noah isn’t known to produce gaudy scoring numbers, his mere presence helped turn the Bulls into the championship-caliber force they became.

The hope is that he’ll make the same impact in New York.

A dominant rebounder, gifted facilitator, and intimidating defensive presence, Noah’s entire career has been about presence. He doesn’t relent defensively, refuses to quit on the offensive boards, and stays on his teammates to do the same.

Much like Kevin Garnett managed to do in Boston, Noah has been known to create a level of accountability in the locker room. Even if he isn’t active, his leadership is felt as players know better than to let their energy waver.

Anthony broke down the mentality that Noah approaches the game with—a mentality that he believes the rest of the Knicks will soon embrace.

"“If you’re not on his team, you’re an enemy,” Anthony said. “I think that mentality, that’s going to kind of trickle down to everybody else. It’s a different mindset that you’ve got to have coming into the game, going into practice. Even in practice, if you’re not on his team, if you’re not on the blue or white team with him, you’re an enemy. That keeps the competitive edge for everybody out there on the court.”"

Friends become foes for 48 minutes.

Noah has career averages of 11.5 rebounds and 4.1 offensive rebounds per 48 minutes. That’s a testament to how hard he’s willing to work, no matter how hurt, demoralized, or exhausted he may be.

For a Knicks team with what one can comfortably call realistic postseason aspirations, following Noah’s lead would be the most rational decision.

Noah won’t let the Knicks down.

If Noah’s Knicks teammates play as hard as he does on defense, then New York will have a Top 10 defense. If they simply remain in good spirits during trying times like he does, then the postseason will  be within reach.

It’s rare that one player can change the culture, but Noah is that type of player and presence.

Must Read: Five times Derrick Rose flashed MVP form in 2015-16

Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks are already seeing it.