By Brian Mahoney
AP Basketball Writer
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Joakim Noah was seeking help to overcome injuries that wrecked his first season in New York and turned to an over-the-counter supplement.
That decision “backfired,” Noah said Tuesday.
It led to a 20-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy , preventing Noah from ending a disappointing year on a positive note.
“This was a tough moment, but I’m going to learn from it,” Noah said. “I tried to take a supplement to help me with everything I’ve gone through. I’ve gone through a lot of injuries, and I tried to take something to help me and it backfired.”
Noah, the former standout at the University of Florida, returned to practice Tuesday following Feb. 27 surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee. The knee injury came after a hamstring injury he was trying to recover from around the All-Star break.
All told, he managed just 46 games in the first season of a four-year, $72 million contract he signed last summer.
“I wanted to do something to help myself, help my body and like I said it backfired on me,” Noah said. “I tried to take the right measures when I was taking the supplements and it wasn’t enough.”
The league cited Noah for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has said that the substance, known as SARMs, has “similar properties to anabolic agents, but … the lack of steroid-related side effects.”
Noah was aware of the warnings players get when it comes to outside supplements, but may have desperate for some relief in the midst of a second straight injury-plagued season. He was limited to 29 games in his final season in Chicago because of a left shoulder injury that required surgery.
“So I know it didn’t come from a bad place,” Noah said, adding that he thought 20 games was severe but “it is what it is and I’ve got to bounce back.”
He apologized to teammates and the organization, saying he let a lot of people down.
“You can’t do anything about it now. We’re just glad to see him back on the court today, doing some things,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We’ll miss him the rest of the year and the beginning of next year. But he’ll be ready to go next year.”
Noah was limited to 5.0 points a game and wasn’t able to be the defensive anchor the team hoped. He may not even regain his starting spot next season, with rookie Willy Hernangomez playing well recently.
Noah and the Knicks hope he can begin serving the suspension as early as their game Wednesday against Miami so he can chop off the first eight games this season.
“It’s a tough lesson to learn, but everything in life has its purpose,” Noah said. “I know that right now it’s a tough situation to be in not being there with my teammates out there on the court. But I’m going to take this suspension like a man and move on.”