PHILADELPHIA -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah admitted after Wednesday night's win against the 76ers that he felt "disrespected" by Philadelphia fans that cheered in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last spring when he badly sprained his ankle.
"I've been thinking about it all summer," Noah said. "All summer, I just couldn't wait to come back here. I just felt like when I went down last year just people cheering and stuff, I felt like that was real disrespectful and it was definitely motivating for me to work even harder to work in the summer."
Noah, who scored 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists in the Bulls' 96-89 win Wednesday, did not play in another game after injuring his ankle last season and then had to sit out the Olympics. He acknowledged that he tried to rile up the crowd Wednesday night, playing the role of a wrestling heel.
"And I'm going to do it for the rest of my career," Noah said. "Every time I come here.
"(The booing) motivates me. I'll never forget what happened in the playoffs when I went down, and I will use that as motivation every time I come into this building."
Noah's teammates could tell the game against Philadelphia meant a little more to the emotional big man.
"Tonight it was kind of personal for him," Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler said. "He was really excited to play here, he was ready to go. He was hyped before the game, in the hotel room, on the bus on the way over here.
"I was like, 'Wow, he's really ready to go.' ... You could tell by his demeanor, he was very serious, he got dressed quick, went in there to get his treatment, went out there to go shoot. He was focused the entire time, focused on the floor, and he was out there just doing what Jo does."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was just pleased by the fact Noah responded after a poor performance in Tuesday night's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I think he responded well because of what happened (Tuesday) night," Thibodeau said. "I didn't think he played his best (Tuesday) night, but I thought today he had the energy and determination to play well again, and so I think that was the big factor in the way he played. The big thing for him is I want him to be consistent with his approach.
"I don't want him to be relying on emotion of one game you're up, one game you're down. Just approach it the same way each and every day, get ready for your next opponent. This one's over, get ready for Brooklyn. That's the way it has to be."
Obviously, Noah took pride in his play in Philadelphia. When asked if he could hear what fans were saying to him, Noah chuckled.
"Nah," he said. "But they could hear what I was saying, though."