Cheering, Booing, heckling, derogatory gestures; all things you can expect from fans when playing in the NBA. Just ask Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah who was motivated in the Bulls’ Wednesday night match up against the Philadelphia 76ers solely from the cheers he received from Sixer fans when he got injured last season.
Allow me to set the scene…
It’s Game Three of the Eastern conference quarter finals, Noah goes down with a sprained ankle and Sixers fans cheer; delighted in the fact that Noah is hurt.
“I’ve been thinking about it all summer,” Noah said. “All summer I couldn’t wait to come here. I just felt like when I went down last year just people cheering and stuff, I felt that was real disrespectful. It was definitely motivating for me to work even harder to work in the summer.”
Noah played with aggression and unbelievable energy droping 21 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and dishing out five assists in Chicago’s 96-89 victory.
“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 said.
However, head coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t want Noah to simply play off emotion.
“I don’t want him 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,” Thibodeau said.
Personally, I hope fans boo Noah every night if it means he will play like he did last night in Philadelphia. It’s that fire and determination that makes Noah a special player. He might have a funky looking jump shot, and crazy hair, but when he plays with passion and a purpose he’s a problem for opposing centers.
So keep the boos coming Philly.