As details continue to emerge from the apparent bullying saga between Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, professional teams across the country have been asked about whether or not those same acts of hazing go on inside their respective locker rooms.
And according to Bulls center Joakim Noah, there’s no place for it in Chicago.
“I don’t even know what to say. There’s no bullying going on in the Chicago Bulls locker room,” Noah said at the United Center during the team’s shoot around. “I don’t like to talk too much about that situation because I’m not in that locker room, so I don’t really know what’s going on except for a few words here or there. It’s unfortunate; it doesn’t happen over here. That’s all I can tell you.”
In Miami, Incognito reportedly hazed Martin, a second-year player from Stanford, to the point that Martin left the team and checked himself into a Miami hospital to be treated for emotional distress. Incognito has since been suspended by the Dolphins, who have requested an NFL investigation into whether or not Incognito acted beyond that of traditional locker-room hazing, something Martin’s lawyers insist was the case.
Noah admitted that a basketball locker room is far different from that a football locker room, what with only 15 players in at a time and far less break-up in terms of positional cliques/offensive and defensive meetings. He did say, however, that rookies have never felt scared to come to practice.
“I love my rooks. I don’t want them to feel terrorized when I come to practice. It’s probably not a good feeling, but I’m not a football player, I don’t think it really happens too much in basketball,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate situation. The guy was petrified, man. I think our rookies feel good about coming to practice and they feel comfortable.”
Head coach Tom Thibodeau also declined to comment on the specifics of the Miami situation but said that the Bulls and their veteran-laced locker room has instilled a culture where such acts of hazing and bullying wouldn’t be allowed.
“I think the culture is important and we like to think we give everyone a fair shake, and winners come in all different personality and types,” he said, “and you can tolerate some idiosyncrasies, but you can never let anything get in the way of winning.”
The host of veterans — Luol Deng is in his 10th season with the Bulls, Derrick Rose has been in Chicago six seasons, and Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy are each in their 12th season — has created a positive environment where rookies — Tony Snell and Erik Murphy this year — don’t feel threatened.
“We’ve always had a very good culture here,” Thibodeau said. “I think we have a very good veteran leadership, and so I think respect is important.”
The Bulls host the 0-5 Jazz tonight on Comcast SportsNet.