Last night, Chicago Bulls’ All-Star center, Joakim Noah, was ejected and proceeded to go drop an expletive laced tirade on his way to the locker room. It certainly drew the attention of social media last night and is sure to land on new commissioner Adam Silver’s desk this morning. The incident will lead to a fine and add fuel to the fire for all Noah detractors.
He is easy to hate. I’ll admit that I despised the guy when he was at Florida. The cockiness and cartoon antics on the court draw a lot of heat from the fans. But it is all part of Noah’s plan, he was the heat and the ire drawn towards him and off of his teammates. He can handle it and brings his teams closer together.
Noah is in that special group of players I like to call “our guys.” An “our guy” is a player who fans admit we’d totally hate if he weren’t on our team. The type of guy that knows how to get under the skin of other players and throws them off their games. A player who opposing fans would give up one of their children for the chance to punch him in the face. Yet for fans of the team he is on, this is a guy that draws the most love.
They are honest to a fault and we love honesty in our athletes. Many people will label Noah’s rant as childish and petty. But the guy has been busting his ass every night to help a team that lost its former MVP 10 games into the season and then traded away its glue guy, plus Noah’s best friend, Luol Deng 23 games into the season. The guy has a right to be petty. We hold athletes to a higher standard, expecting them to rise above and be professional no matter the situation. It is easy to forget that they’re humans too. Don’t we all like to complain about things that go wrong at work? Aren’t there moments where the stress just becomes too much and we just need a release in order to avoid exploding?
Noah’s antics reveal his human side. He is hurt and pissed. A team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference two years in a row now has to scratch and claw to make the playoffs in the worst conference in basketball history. It has been quite a free fall and a difficult last two years for Noah, so it is no surprise that he would blow up like that over two terrible calls, it’s only human. I love seeing how much this matters to Noah and how much losing eats at him.
When I play sports, I bring an emotional side to every game. I yell and scream when I mess up, never at anyone else just myself. It is the way the game should be played, intensely. It serves as a great release for all my stress. We all need to find releases and not be afraid to get guttural every once in a while. It is better to do it in a pickup basketball game, then at home around people we love.
This is why I love Noah. He wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn’t care what others think of him. Plus I know he will do anything to help his team win. In my sports fan career there have been two “our guys” that stand out above the rest, Noah and AJ Pierzynski. Neither has been the best player on the team, but they find more ways to contribute to a win than any other. An “our guy” makes a special connection with the fans and once an “our guy” always an “our guy.” It doesn’t matter if they move on to another team, it is now impossible to hate them again. We’ve made too strong of a connection and love all the things that make other sports fans hate them. America, feel free to hate on Noah for his ejection, but he’s my guy and I’m going to keep on loving him.