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NYC dentist plays small part in NBA history

Dr. Daniel Rudolph helped connect Joakim Noah with Knicks

October 17, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

Making a connection: Dr. Daniel Rudolph, left, said he helped connect Joakim Noah, right, a former Chicago Bulls basketball player, with New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, whom Dr. Rudolph met decades ago through a pick-up basketball league with which he plays.
New York City
— When NBA star Joakim Noah was introduced as a New York Knick in July after leaving the Chicago Bulls, he offered a shout out to “the dentist.”

That dentist, it turns out, is New York City’s Dr. Daniel Rudolph, 71, who has owned his general dentistry office in the city’s Greenwich Village neighborhood for more than 40 years.

Dr. Rudolph’s connection to the NBA star was highlighted in an August story published in the New York Daily News by sports reporter Stefan Bondy, who tracked down Dr. Rudolph as “the dentist” that Mr. Noah mentioned.

Mr. Bondy wrote, “Before … the $72 million deal [referring to Mr. Noah’s contract with the Knicks] consummated at a Disney World resort — there was the dentist from Greenwich Village.” Adding that Dr. Rudolph, “was the facilitator of the unusual relationship between Noah and Jackson, playing the dual role of teeth cleaner and NBA intermediary.”

The “Jackson” in the story is — who else? — Phil Jackson, former NBA coach and player and currently the president of the New York Knicks. For years, Dr. Rudolph played in the same pick-up basketball league at a Manhattan public high school gym as Mr. Jackson. Their relationship came into play after Dr. Rudolph got a call from Noah’s agent — a friend of his son’s — who shared with Dr. Rudolph Mr. Noah’s interest in playing for Knicks, Dr. Rudolph said.

The call wasn’t Dr. Rudolph’s first encounter with Mr. Noah, who grew up partially in New York City. Mr. Noah had occasionally shown up with friends to the pick-up basketball league Dr. Rudolph plays with and even occasionally saw Dr. Rudolph for some dental care.

“His friends came to me so he came to me,” Dr. Rudolph said.

Mr. Rudolph is credited with making the first introduction between Mr. Noah and the Knicks president earlier this year.

“I’m not an agent; I was just sort of the go-between,” Dr. Rudolph told the ADA

Mr. Noah remains an occasional patient for Dr. Rudolph, who keeps season tickets “behind the basket” at Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play, according to the New York Daily News story.

Other national press, including CBS Sports, picked up Mr. Bondy’s article. Dr. Rudolph called the spotlight put on his office and work “pretty cool.”

Still, having famous patients is nothing new for him, Dr. Rudolph said, being that his office is in the heart of Manhattan. But he’d never “bump anyone’s appointment for a celebrity,” adding that his level of care is the same high quality for all of his patients.

To read Mr. Bondy’s story, visit nydailynews.com and search for the headline: “How a Greenwich Village dentist brought Joakim Noah and Phil Jackson together.”