"Noah Sucks, Noah Sucks, Noah Sucks!" chanted the Boston crowd after Joakim Noah received a technical foul in the third quarter of Game Two of the first-round matchup between the Bulls and the Celtics. It was not the first time the kid had heard such a chant and it certainly will not not be the last.
People love to hate Noah, almost as much as people love to hate Tyler Hansbrough. Much like Hansbrough is being doubted for his ability to become an NBA regular, Noah faced similar and probably more harsh criticism as he was leaving Florida.
The fact of the matter is, Noah does nothing to make the casual fan like him and everything to make fans of his team love him again, making his situation similar to Hansborough's.
Aside from the fact that his technical foul Monday night was undeserved, after all Kendrick Perkins was doing most of the yapping, here are a few reasons you should love Joakim Noah.
Let me preface this list by saying I am a lifelong Pacers and Kansas Jayhawks fan, leaving me far outside the realm of the typical Noah fan. Something about this guy makes you love watching basketball, especially if he is the one scrapping for your home team.
1. He's scrappy in the best way
Rarely will you see Noah commit a hard foul that is cheap in nature. He is fiery and sacrifices his body game in and game out for his team. If he plays for your team, what is not to like?
Sure, his offense is well below average, but his defensive skills and hustle make him an indispensable asset to a team. This reason is going to be left rather short as nobody in their right mind will question the fight in this kid.
2. He's emotional but not out of control
This argument is sometimes running on thin ice because he is so fiery, he will badger referees a bit too much on occasion. However, I have yet to see a situation where he takes it too far. Perhaps most importantly, he is usually right.
He does not argue every play like a certain beloved Spurs center, and he doesn't sweat the small stuff. He may look like he is as disgusted as Tim Duncan after a bad call or no call, but the fact of the matter is, he plays the next play just as hard or even harder regardless of the previous play.
He takes the haters and turns their negative energy into motivation, which is a very underrated quality most young players lack.
From people calling him gay to Florida State fans calling his girlfriend a "slut," he has refused to get mixed up in wars of words other than to tell the haters to watch and wait. He is a better player and person for it, too.
3. He is the consummate team player
Once again tracing his roots to the University of Florida, where he stayed after winning a national title to come back and win another, Noah is in it for the team and the joy of playing basketball.
He wants to help his team in any way possible. Earlier this season, when he was reduced to practically 12th-man status, he did not quit. He continued to work hard and got in Vinny Del Negro's good graces, which has led him to be the starting center for his team in the playoffs.
When he was benched, he would say nothing but good things about his coach and that he needed to continue to work hard and do the right things to get to play.
Knowing what to say and how to handle yourself when things are not going so well is another quality young players lack, and the fact that Noah handled himself so well despite spending the last few years being a star and starter at Florida makes it all the more impressive. Just ask Allen Iverson how difficult it is to go from starter to sub.