Knicks’ Joakim Noah skips dinner at West Point, says he is against war

Explaining that he was not "anti-troops," New York Knicks center Joakim Noah said he skipped a team dinner Thursday night at the U.S. Military Academy that featured cadets and a speech by a former colonel because he is against war. His decision was criticized by a West Point spokesman, who called the action "inappropriate."

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The Knicks are holding training camp at the academy this week, and Noah told ESPN he had "mixed feelings" about spending time there because he is opposed to young troops fighting in wars.

"It's hard for me a little bit. I have a lot of respect for the kids who are out here fighting. But it's hard for me to understand why we have to go to war, why kids have to kill kids around the world," Noah said after Friday's practice. "So I have mixed feelings about being here. I'm very proud of this country. I love America, but I just don't understand kids killing kids around the world.

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Posted by New York Knicks on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"At the end of the day, I'm not anti-troops. It's just not comfortable for me to see kids going out to war and coming back having seen what they've seen, having done what they've done. It's sad for me.”

Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, West Point public affairs officer, said Noah's decision was disappointing.

"The U.S. Military Academy at West Point develops leaders of character for the defense of our nation," Kasker said. "We are disappointed and feel Mr. Noah's choice of West Point to make a statement is inappropriate because of the great sacrifice that has originated from this institution over our nation's history."

On Twitter, the Knicks tweeted photos late Friday of Noah spending time with the cadets.

By skipping the dinner, Noah said he wasn’t making a statement.

He said he supports athletes using their platforms to call attention to different social issues, as some have done in recent months. His foundation, Noah's Arc, is committed to reducing violence in Chicago and other cities.