If you watched Sunday’s U.S. Open match between Rafael Nadal and Lucas Pouille, you may have noticed the camera occasionally panning to box seats to catch a glimpse of an older gentleman who kind of looks like Michael Dorn rocking a Knicks cap. In fact, that was French tennis legend Yannick Noah, winner of the 1983 French Open:
Noah, who has lived in New York for a few decades now, has been cheering on his fellow Frenchmen in Queens these past two weeks, but soon he’ll be heading to Manhattan to watch his son, Joakim Noah, take the court for his hometown Knicks. Both father and son are pumped about the prospect of him playing at MSG, per The Post:
“It means the world to him,” the elder Noah said of Joakim joining the Knicks. “We used to go to the Garden when he was a kid, watching games, watching Patrick [Ewing] play. To know that he’s going to play in the Garden, we feel so blessed. He’s preparing hard. He has a lot of hope and he can’t wait. And I’ll be there.”
“He was born here. It’s not like he’s coming from the countryside and he’s coming to New York City. He lived here for a long time. Of course, it can be dangerous for an athlete. But he knows and he’s so motivated. It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s going to give all he has for the city.”
I’m not sure I would call New York a “dangerous” place for athletes. Sure, the attention and pressure surrounding players can often be frustrating, maddening, horrifying, dangerous, but ... what was the question again?
Yannick, who used to give lil’ Joakim Phil Jackson books to read as a child, believes his son is ready to “play and compete and dominate” for New York. Given his recent injury history, I’d settle for two out of three, but if he can recapture his Defensive Player of the Year form, you won’t see me complain.