BOSTON -- Long before the rest of the NBA took notice of Joakim Noah’s potential, Celtics coach Doc Rivers saw how good he could be.
"I loved him because I had more background than most," Rivers said Friday night before the Bulls/Celtics game. "I was very high on him. I lived in Florida and I know Billy [Donovan] very well. So I was very, very high on him. And he had a great workout. He got into it with a guy in the workout, which I loved, so it was perfect."
Heading into the draft, Rivers even compared him to former rebounding king Dennis Rodman.
"I just thought he had those intangibles," Rivers said. "Where he could rebound, he could run the floor. You're never going to talk about his offense, but at the end of the day, he's going to have 14 or 15 points. And Rodman was a winner, too."
Obviously, Noah's competitive fire is one of the character traits Rivers loves most about the Bulls center. It's also the reason why he feels the comparisons between Noah and Celtics big man Kevin Garnett are so apt.
"Personality wise they are," Rivers said. "They're both very verbal. They both play with an amazing amount of energy. And really, if you look at the 5's and 4's historically, 5's and 4's don't have great energy. They're big and they play well, but they're not energy players. Kevin and Joakim are both the same way in that respect. Kevin is more to himself off the floor. I don't think Joakim is that way. But they both play hard at the end of the day and they play for the right reasons.”
It's clear that Noah and Garnett are the type of throwback players that Rivers enjoys watching. He doesn't seem all that surprised that they have clashed on the floor before.
"It's natural they're going to clash because they're on opposite teams," Rivers said. "And they're trying to win. And only one can when they play. So that's a natural thing. That's good, though. Hell, I wish the whole league was like that every night. That would be terrific."