Joakim Noah's tenure with the Knicks ended in an ugly mess, but he is taking full responsibility for what transpired.
The former Knicks center, now with the Grizzlies, opened up to Frank Isola of The Athletic on Thursday about the "dark time" in his career.
"I got kicked off the team," he said. "Obviously, you know the situation. It's unfortunate."
Last January, Noah got into an altercation with then-head coach Jeff Hornacek during a practice, which stemmed from a dispute over playing time and ultimately led to his exile from the team.
It ended a Knicks tenure that was marred by injuries, suspensions and overall disappointment after he was signed by then-Knicks president Phil Jackson to a four-year, $72 million deal.
He played in just 53 games over two seasons in New York.
"I had shoulder surgery on my left side before I signed my deal, then I had two surgeries that year," Noah said. "And then I had the drug suspension. So I dealt with a lot of (crap). I had a lot of (crap) going on. It was not easy. I think these are all life lessons. It was a tough time for me mentally. Failing like that on a stage I really wanted to do well on. I take responsibility. It took me a while to digest that."
In December, Noah further fueled flames when he went on a podcast and said it was not just the pressure of playing in New York -- the city he grew up in -- but that he was "too lit" to play in New York City.
The 34-year-old clarified those comments, which he told Isola were taken out of context.
"Everybody who knows me knows that I take the game really seriously and that I work really hard," Noah said. "And when I said I'm too lit to be in New York, I was talking about mostly when I was injured and when I got kicked off the team. It was a dark time once I got kicked off the team.
"And New York is lit as hell. That's what I should have said. I should have said New York is too lit for me. Obviously, it didn't work out and it's something I have to live with. I wish it did work out."
Also in December, Knicks GM Steve Mills revealed that if it were solely his decision, he would not have signed the aging center.
Noah, who did not want to speak ill of anyone, replied, "He was the GM. ... He was the GM.
"What do you want me to do, talk (crap) about him? That's not my style. I understand that Steve Mills is somebody who always wanted to position himself ... and I wish him the best."
Noah returns to Madison Square Garden on Super Bowl Sunday in his first appearance since he was "kicked off the team" but is content with where he is with the Grizzlies.
"I hadn't played in a long time so to be on the court and get consistent minutes feels good," he said. "I'm healthy. It's been a while since I've been healthy so I don't take that for granted. After everything that happened in New York my perspective is a little different. I appreciate my opportunity. It's a blessing."