Despite history, Noah respects Garnett

Joakim Noah and Kevin Garnett have had some memorable matchups over the years. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

BOSTON -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has been critical of some of Kevin Garnett's tactics over the years, but he still respects the Boston Celtics forward.

"I think he's a hell of a competitor," said Noah, whose Bulls play the Celtics on Wednesday night. "I really respect him."

Noah's comments come on the heels of a 100-99 Bulls victory over the Celtics on Jan. 18 when Noah was critical of the way Garnett handled himself. While praising Garnett's competitiveness, Noah acknowledged that he feels Garnett crosses the line sometimes.

"(I was) just playing defense," Noah said after holding Garnett to a 5-for-16 performance. "Just playing sound defense, just contesting his shots. He's a hell of a competitor. He's always on some (expletive). Always on some (expletive)."

When asked to clarify, Noah said: "Just trying to throw elbows. Cheap shots, just trying to get you off your game. But he's a vet. He's been doing this a long time, but it's alright."

On Wednesday, Noah tried to describe his contentious relationship with Garnett -- which has also included Noah calling out Garnett for being a "dirty player" in the 2009 playoffs and for being mean to foreign players during a 2010 interview with ESPN Chicago's "Waddle & Silvy Show."

"I don't know if you would call it a relationship," Noah said. "He's a hell of a competitor, and I know he's going to do everything to try and win a basketball game. He'll do whatever it takes, and we feel the same way so it will be a fun game tonight."

So does Noah enjoy playing against Garnett?

"When we win I enjoy playing against him," he said.