Sunday, Apr. 18, 2010
By Aggrey Sam
CLEVELAND Bulls center Joakim Noah hasnt necessarily endeared himself to Cavaliers fans, and if Chicago somehow gets past top-seeded Cleveland to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, a potential opponent might not be too happy with him either.
After Sundays Bulls practice in Cleveland, Noah was asked if he watched any other playoff games following Chicagos 96-83 loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday.
That was unbelievable yesterday, huh? That Boston-Miami game. Hes unbelievable, that guy? said Noah, referring to Celtics forward Kevin Garnett elbowing Miami swingman Quentin Richardson. Im going to say thishes a dirty player, man. Hes a dirty player. Thats messed up, man.
I dont know about a suspension, but hes always swinging elbows, man. I mean, Im hurting right now because of an elbow he threw, continued Noah, who obviously has a history with Boston from last springs epic Bulls-Celtics playoff series, although Garnett didnt play. Its one thing to be competitive and compete and all that, but dont be a dirty player.
He knows what hes doing. Its wrong.
Noah also pontificated about the city of Cleveland, in the wake of Cavaliers fans chanting, Noah sucks during Game 1, in response to Noahs pre-series shock the world comments after the Bulls regular-season finale, playoff-clinching win in Charlotte on Wednesday.
ClevelandI dont know about Cleveland, said Noah. There is nothing to do. Its bad, man. Its bad.
What, that Cleveland sucks? Noah, went on to sayin jest, when asked about whether the fans derision motivated himbefore turning serious. They played very well. Shaq is back and playing at a high level, and theyre on a mission right now.
Well see what were made of on Monday.
Although Noahs lightning-rod status may concern some, his teammates are supportive, knowing his emotion can be used to the Bulls benefit.
Oh, youve got to love him. I wish they were calling my name like that. Id love it, said Chicago point guard Derrick Rose. It would make me play harder. It should make him play harder. I just love playing away from home and shutting the crowd up, but its going to take some wins.
For that to occur, Noahs matchup against Cleveland center Shaquille ONeal must turn in the Bulls favor.
What do I have to do to wear Shaq out? Hopefully he wears himself out, Noah continued. Weve got to try to make it a track meet as much as possible.
You want me to give him all the credit in the whole world and then, what? said Noah, when asked about the difficulty of stopping ONeal, who dominated the paint, in contrast to the foul trouble Noah and Chicagos other big menrookie power forward Taj Gibson and backup center Brad Millerexperienced on Saturday. Guarding ONeal is as hard as it looks.
Despite their Game 1 loss, the Bulls were in high spirits during Sundays practice, continuing their theme of using the sessions to re-focus, loosen up and motivate themselves. For example, a round-robin game of one-on-one between reserves Jannero Pargo, James Johnson, Joe Alexander and Rob Kurz captivated the rest of the teamincluding Noah, even as he was being interviewed.
I remember when I used to do this with Tyrus and Big Pookie Jerome James my rookie year, said Noah. You get tired and you get really pissed off at the coaches. This is adversity in its rawest form.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.