Joakim Noah Bummed Over Gators Loss, Thinks Shooters Like Bradley Beal Deserve A Beer
Chicago Bulls standout center Joakim Noah had a stern warning for journalists approaching his locker after his team dismantled the Washington Wizards on Saturday evening: “No Florida questions.”
While his Bulls were drubbing the Wizards, 96-78, Noah’s Gators were losing in the Final Four to Connecticut, 63-53. Noah, who led the University of Florida to back-to-back NCAA Tournament titles in 2006 and 2007, took his alma mater’s upset loss hard. He engaged in a conversation with a fellow Gator, Wizards’ shooting guard Bradley Beal, on the court after Chicago beat Washington. Was Noah offering postseason advice?
“No advice, we just spoke a bit about the tragedy that happened today. The Gators.” The college semi-final matchup had ended in the beginning part of the third quarter in Washington, so I was curious as to how, and when, Noah found out. “Somebody told me when I was at the free throw line, “ he said. “Devastating.”
While the Gators’ championship hopes were dashed, Noah was balling out at the Verzion Center. The All-Star finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and one block. His wicked defense was instrumental in holding Washington to a season-low 26 first half points.
Noah believed that Chicago’s mental toughness made the difference:
“I watched a little bit of their game (Wizards’ win over the Knicks) last night. They played a high intensity, high energy game that went down to the wire. It is hard to replicate that over and over and over again. I think they were a little flat today. Got in late last night, we did too. Usually we see those situations as an advantage because that is what we are built on. Just our mental strength.”
D.J. Augustin killed the Wizards with six 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 25 points. The Bulls point guard had high praise for Noah.
“He has been doing this all year for us. He is our energizer. He is our leader. He brings it every night for us,” said Augustin.
“Jo’s the heart and soul of this team,” added Jimmy Butler, who hounded Beal on defense all night. “On both ends of the floor, he does so much stuff for us. It makes everthing so much easier. He is our leader out there. All-Star. I don’t know where we would be without him.”
Carlos Boozer gushed about his frontcourt partner. “He has been great all season. An All-Star. Best center in the East. Great player, man,” said Boozer. “He initates our offense, anchors our defense. His emotion and passion trickle down to all of us … exciting. It is great playing with him.”
There has been a discussion in recent weeks regarding if Noah should be selected to the All-NBA First Team over Houston’s Dwight Howard. Boozer declared the debate over in favor of Noah. “Absolutely, first team All-NBA and first team All-Defense.”
Meanwhile, Noah dished out compliments for his fellow Gator.
“I think Bradley is one of the most promising young players in the NBA. He is a star player already to me. I think he is a guy that continues to get better,” said Noah. “Unless it is against us, I root for him. He is a Gator boy. I think everyone knows that his game is undeniable. Unbelievable skill set.”
Noah was reminded that Beal is just 20 years old. (He will turn 21 on June 28.)
“He can’t even have a beer, man. Can you imagine? The guy has been shooting the ball like that, and he can’t even have a beer.”
VIDEO: Noah Interview