By J.A. Adande
We often see a metaphorical passing of the torch during the NBA playoffs, but usually not by the midpoint of the first round. In this case we already can call the fight. Joakim Noah has surpassed Phil Jackson as the undisputed champion of insults.
Not only did Noah lead with “Cleveland really sucks”, he landed that devastating follow-up after Game 2 of the Cavs-Bulls series, when someone asked if he regretted his comments.
“Not at all,” Noah replied. “Do you like it? Do you think Cleveland’s cool? I mean, I never heard anybody say ‘I’m going to Cleveland on vacation.’ I mean, what’s so good about Cleveland?”
Sure, Noah struck first. But I figured with thee days and four nights in Oklahoma City that Jackson could surely find some way to top it. After all, Phil’s the coach who called Orlando a “plastic city”, said downtown Memphis looked like “Dresden after the war” and described Sacramento Kings fans as “semi-civilized” and “redneck in some form or fashion.” But when asked for his thoughts on Oklahoma City Thursday Jackson said “I can hardly wait to go to the cowboy hall of fame. I’m looking forward to that."
Technically, it’s called the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. And honestly, Jackson really means it.
“No, I’m not being sarcastic,” he said. “I spent my summers on a ranch. I know what that’s all about, sitting on a horse for eight hours, going out and rounding up cattle. That’s where I grew up.”
It’s a lot easier to picture Jackson on a high horse than taking the high road. I told him how surprised I was that he’s letting Noah get all the best lines. All he had to offer was praise for Noah.
“That was great,” Jackson said. “Jeanie [Buss] said, ‘That must be your son.’
“He’s had the best stuff.”
There’s only one problem with Noah’s material: he and the Bulls can’t buttress it by winning on the court. He’s playing great, but his team is down 2-0. That’s why I’d like to see a player or coach with greater stature be as outspoken as Noah. Someone who can hurt fans’ feelings, then beat their team. The completely demoralizing double-whammy
Shaquille O’Neal used to call out players, teams and towns (well, Sacramento, at least) when he was on top of the league. He’s been muted this season, suffering through injuries and subject to off-court drama. That doesn’t mean he can’t play consigliere to LeBron James and teach him the ways of artful trash talk.
I’d like to see LeBron move beyond the dances, winks or on-court comments. Take it to Noah’s level and do the press conference call-out.
As shown here, LeBron is still better at talking about himself, and he can’t find it within to say bad things about Chicago. Sure, Chicago’s a great city but no place is infallible. It doesn’t take much research. Crooked politicians. The Cubs’ century of futility. Joakim Noah’s hair. Start small, build up against Boston, then unleash against Orlando.
When the Bulls get eliminated I don’t want all of the best lines to go with them.