Fact Check

Joakim Noah Gives U.S. Soldiers the Finger, Refuses to Eat With Them?

Joakim Noah skipped a dinner with the cadets while training at West Point, but the NBA star did not give U.S. soldiers the finger.

Published May 9, 2017

 (Keith Allison / FLICKR)
Image Via Keith Allison / FLICKR
Joakim Noah gave the finger to US soldiers and refused to eat with them while training at West Point.
What's True

Joakim Noah did not attend a dinner with cadets while training at West Point in October 2016.

What's False

The NBA star did not give US soldiers the finger.

In May 2017, web sites such as BlueMatters.net and PoliceWorld.news recirculated an old and misleading story about Joakim Noah, claiming that the NBA star had given the finger to US soldiers while training at West Point:

What kind of asshat does this? Joakim Noah was training at West Point and then refused to eat with the rest of the New York Knicks with the cadets because he’s anti-war. Really? That’s about as rude as it gets. Those cadets are not the ones instigating war and if war comes, they will willingly serve to protect our country. You know, the one that makes it possible for this moron to earn $72 million over the next four years. What a jerk.

It's true that Joakim Noah skipped a dinner with cadets while the team was training at West Point. However, the NBA star did not make an obscene gesture at troops.

This story was largely based on an October 2016 article published by The New York Daily News. The original article included several statements from Noah, who said that his stance was anti-war and not anti-troops:

All he is saying is give peace a chance.

In a move based around his anti-war beliefs, Joakim Noah skipped the annual dinner with Army cadets Thursday night at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He also missed a speech from a retired Army colonel, saying afterwards it wasn’t about making a statement or launching a protest. Noah’s main objection to participating was feeling uncomfortable in a place that trains young soldiers to kill.

“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. “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.”

Noah's decision to skip the dinner was certainly controversial in some circles and even brought criticism from West Point spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker:

Predictably, the U.S. Military Academy wasn’t happy. In a statement released to the Daily News, Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, a spokesman for West Point, said the school was “disappointed” by Noah’s “inappropriate” action.

“The U.S. Military Academy at West Point develops leaders of character for the defense of our Nation. 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.”

The New York Knicks attempted to quell the controversy by posting pictures of Noah talking to the troops at West Point:


Bondy, Stefan.   "Joakim Noah skips out of Knicks’ annual dinner with cadets at West Point, says he’s anti-war but not anti-troops."     New York Daily News.   1 October 2016.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.