Death by point center, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, is a sight to behold.
It kills you, the Maywood, Ill., native said after his teams 100-89 loss Tuesday night to his hometown Bulls at the United Center. Joakim Noahs terrific. Hes such a great passer. With Rose out, hes their point guard. He makes their decisions. I bet 10 times in the first half, the play clock runs down, he flashes to the ball and makes the play, either by scoring or with his passing. Hes just an extremely high I.Q. basketball player. Ive said it for years now and its getting higher and higher.
HIGHLIGHTS: Noah, Robinson lead Bulls over Celtics
When told of the former NBA point guards praises, Noah responded, DocI appreciate it.
I always tell everybody Im a point center anyway, but I always feel like I can pass the ball and I feel more comfortable with the offense. We have a lot of people who can score the ball in different ways. Lus a great cutter, Carlos catches almost any pass I can throw it almost anywhere, hell catch it so just everybody. I think it was a great team effort and weve just got to keep going, he continued after his 11-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist outing, the second triple-double of his NBA career. It feels great to play well and to win. Everybodys happy right now. I feel like were getting so much better as a team and even against the elite teams in the NBA, were competing against everybody and we have some tough games coming up, but lets enjoy this one tonight and get ready for New York.
Noah isnt big on statistical accomplishments, at least not discussing them with the media, but privately, he spoke of being inspired by watching the likes of retired NBA center Vlade Divac while growing up specifically in the 1996 Olympics, in person and being tutored by former Bull Brad Miller (ironically, Divacs replacement in Sacramento), one of the better passing big men of recent vintage.
Teammate Nate Robinson approved of that sentiment.
You guys are over here comparing him to Vlade Divac, which is a great comparison because he can pass, he can score, he can rebound, he can do everything. Jo is versatile. I love playing on the side of Joakim, he said. Jo plays hard, man. I feed off his energy every time Im out there with him. Hes an energy guy and thats something that a lot of coaches would love to have, a guy like Jo.
"He had a hell of a game, a triple-double. I was teasing him in the game, Jo, you need two more assists. Pass me the ball! He just plays the game for the love of it. If you watch him play, he plays with his heart on his sleeve, very emotional player. Me and him are kind of similar with our energy, so thats something that me and him cherish. I always tell him to bring the energy and thats what we do.
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Taj Gibson pondered the question of how many current NBA centers have nightly triple-double potential and could come up with only one, a player who the Bulls faced the previous night, Memphis Marc Gasol, except, Joakim is more athletic and he really can handle the ball.
Hes really New York when you look at him, the way he dribbles the ball. Before practice, he dribbles with a heavy ball to get his handles right and when he dribbles the ball, hes so fluid, and he just looks for players, continued Noahs fellow native New Yorker. Every time I see him at the top of the key or anywhere dribbling the ball, Im always ready to shoot and he always finds me.
Joakim did a phenomenal job of just distributing the ball.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau concurred: His skill set is so unique and it gives you the opportunity to play through the elbows more, get to more of a cutting game and then, hes very effective in the pick-and-roll. But he played with great energy. He just made the team function well on both ends of the floor.
Even after a big win and his individual achievement, however, Noah displayed the social conscience that has made him so beloved in the Windy City. If you havent noticed, hes shelved his trademark finger guns celebration after knocking down his Tornado jumper, in the wake of the recent school-shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
Noah told CSNChicago.com: It wasnt just what happened in Connecticut. You just have to be kind of compassionate about whats going on, man. We have issues with guns. Gun violence in this country is out of control and youve just got to be sensitive to that. I love this country. This country did so much for me.
"But I think its important to be more critical and we have issues. I feel just as American as I do French and the issues are complicated, but youve got to be sensitive and a lot of kids are dying. In Chicago, a lot of kids are dying in the streets, so thats why Im not doing that anymore.