Humbled Noah Seeking Redemption

Joakim Noah used the word ‘humbling’ over and over again after practice on Friday. Every time he said it, you could hear the sincerity and pain in his voice.

Noah is set to return to the Knicks for Monday night’s game against the Cavaliers at The Garden. He’ll sit out Saturday night’s home game against the Sacramento Kings, the final game of this 20-game suspension dating back to last March when he tested positive for using a banned performance enhancing supplement.

“It’s more than a learning experience,’’ Noah said. “It’s been very humbling. But it helped me also get my life in order. Just really focusing on what matters.

“Right now I still feel like I have a great opportunity to be able to play at home. That’s something that I’m not going to take for granted. And it was taken away from me because of a bad decision. So right now it’s definitely a learning experience. I’m happy that I can get back and do what I love to do.”

After serving a suspension to start the season, Joakim Noah is eligible to return back to the Knicks Saturday. The Knicks' center talks about being back and his observations on the team so far.

When Noah signed a free agent deal to come to the Knicks last season, it was a dream come true. The New York native, who came to Knicks game as a child, played in Rucker Park and attended Poly Prep, was thrilled to don the white, orange and blue New York jersey.

[Watch Knicks-Cavaliers Monday at 7 PM on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]

But injuries turned his first season into an ordeal, which hit a low point with the suspension. For the first time in his basketball career, Noah wasn’t truly part of a team.

“It’s definitely been different, just not being there when it counts,’’ Noah said. “Even if it’s on the bench. I’ve never been in that situation, just watching the games on TV.

“So definitely it’s been tough, but overall just come in here try to bring a positive attitude every day. Be here with the guys, compete every day in practice.’’

Noah rejoins a Knicks team that is vastly different than the one that struggled last season.

Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kristaps Porzingis has emerged as an early MVP candidate. Rookie Frank Ntilikina has shown he can be the team’s point guard of the future, if not the present.

The Knicks (6-5) head into Saturday night’s game against the Kings (3-8) having won six of their last eight. Coach Jeff Hornacek said the Knicks take the court every night expecting to win.

Noah acknowledged that there is a “completely different vibe’’ surrounding the 2017-18 Knicks.

“I think this is a team that the people in New York should be excited about,” Noah said. “I think that Knicks fans are hungry fans and they appreciate hard work.

“Last year was a tough year and there was a lot of frustration with the way we conducted ourselves and the way I conducted myself with the suspension. And not playing well. So I just want to come back and just help in any way. I think that I want to show that.”

The question Noah and the Knicks must answer is where does the 6-11, 230-pound center fit? Enes Kanter, who the Knicks obtained in the Anthony deal, has excelled as the starting center. Kyle O’Quinn has been sensational off the bench.

Willy Hernangomez, who received All-Rookie honors last season, has been fighting to get minutes. Add Noah and you’ve four centers.

Jeff Hornacek outlines his plans for his big men now that Joakim Noah is eligible to return to the team after serving a suspension and talks about the renewed energy the Knicks has been displaying in recent games.

“All I can do is just be as ready as possible,” Noah said. “Whatever my role is, I’ll accept it.”

“We’re going to have to figure that out when we can,” Hornacek said. “With (GM) Scott (Perry) trying to figure out what our moves are, if all four centers are there it’s going to be a situation where we’ll have to take a look at whether we can keep all four of them out there.

“It’s already tough enough trying to get Willy minutes. But Jo, he’s been working hard in practice. He’s been doing a great job. So we’ll try to get him worked in at some point.”

One thing is certain: Noah has been humbled by the suspension. He hopes he can win back Knicks fans. He knows that can only happen by leaving everything on the court.

[Watch Knicks-Cavaliers Monday at 7 PM on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]