Joakim Noah is no great admirer of Kevin Garnett


Apr 18

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Leave it to Joakim Noah to get right to the point of the first day of the NBA playoffs.

“That was unbelievable yesterday, that Boston/Miami game,” Noah was saying after practice Sunday while some wild one-on-one games went on among the reserves. “He’s unbelievable that guy… I’m gonna say it. He’s a dirty player. He’s a dirty player.”

That would be Kevin Garnett, and Noah said what most NBA players won’t say but all know: Garnett is a punk and a cheap shot artist, and his elbows in the late game melee at Quentin Richardson was just the latest example.

Noah does love this game.

He plays it with the joy of youth, and you can see in him the collegiate spirit. You watch Noah and you know he won’t take games off to rest, that the joy is in the playing and he would do it even if he wasn’t making the big money. As he spoke with reporters just after noon Sunday, he watched intently as James Johnson, Joe Alexander, Rob Kurz and some others who don’t play much went at it, Noah exclaiming excitedly over the best plays.

Noah would punctuate his answers to reporters with an “Oh (crap),” or “Bust his butt,” in the middle of sentences.

A lot of these talks with the players after practices become casual with general talk you’d have with colleagues, what you did, where you went, what you watched. Noah said he watched the games Saturday night after the Bulls loss to the Cavs—trust me, there’s not much to do in this city I rank 30th among my favorite NBA destinations—and offered his views on the Garnett extracurricular.

“That’s really messed up, man,” said Noah, growing serious in more a disappointed tone. “I’m really excited about that series. It’s gonna be fun. I hope they put (Jamaal) Magloire in more.”

Magloire is a noted physical player often without the most grace.

“I don’t make the decisions,” Noah said when asked whether he thought Garnett deserved a suspension. “He’s always swinging elbows, man. I’m hurting right now because of an elbow he threw. It’s unbelievable. He’s a dirty player.

“It’s one thing to be competitive,” Noah went on, getting into it now. “He’s a dirty player. It’s unbelievable. It’s one thing to be competitive and compete. But don’t be a dirty player, man,” Noah, whose Bulls are facing the Cleveland Cavaliers, said of Garnett. “He knows what he’s doing. It’s wrong. Then after that to say (Garnett’s weak post game explanation of defending a fallen teammate)… I shouldn’t even be talking about that. It’s crazy.”

And how refreshing is this kid?

To play with the emotion and joie de vivre he does, no phoniness, no games or acting, a guy who respects he game and professional behavior and will stand up for dignity.

The Bulls can be proud he’s one of them.

Cleveland Tourism

So let me elaborate on my comment on Cleveland. As they proudly say here, “At least we’re not Detroit.”

There’s an hysterical video you can find on Youtube entitled “Cleveland tourism” that pretty much sums it up. It notes you get to see the sun three times a year, you can buy a house for the price of a VCR, it leads the nation in drifters, the highlight of its downtown is poor people waiting for buses and has an economy based on LeBron James.

The suburbs are like any suburbs anywhere, comfortable with nice homes and two of every fast food place on every block. But since both the baseball stadium and basketball arena are downtown, the teams stay there and there is no more depressing center city anywhere. Among the 30 NBA stops, this always is my least favorite with barely a decent restaurant anywhere downtown, little retail and a gloomy, scary stretch of streets that are deserted once it gets dark.

Noah was in a buoyant mood after practice, obviously, given his newsmaking comments on Kevin Garnett. Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked he didn’t know Noah was in their series. Garnett got a one game suspension for his elbowing. But I also ran across a Tweet from Andrew Bogut sarcastically wondering who started that Celtics/Heat melee. You’d think the Aussies were from Brooklyn if not for the accent. Everyone around the NBA knows Garnett is a punk and relentlessly cheap shots and spews verbal lunacy about it. What a sad way for a formerly great player to be playing his last years.

Anyway, Noah was asked about being booed because he had dared question LeBron James acting like an idiot when he was dancing on the court against the Bulls a few months back. Hey, it’s Cleveland. Ever see the way they dress to the football games?

“I don’t know about Cleveland, man,” Noah moaned. “There’s nothing going on. It’s bad, man. It’s bad.”

So regarding chants of “sucks,” Noah quipped: “What? That Cleveland sucks?”

I think Detroit’s downtown may be worse, but we never stay there with the arena in Auburn Hills. But at least Detroit is close to Canada and those cheap prescription medicines we can’t get here. Hey, you think about that at my age, though Allen Iverson seemed to like it more for the Ontario gambling. Cleveland is close to Erie, Pa., I think.

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