There are certain things you just shouldn't do around Joakim Noah.
- Approach him with a pair of scissors and threaten to cut his hair.
- Root for the Miami Heat.
- Try to shoot a layup.
Well, now you can add a fourth item to the list: Ask for the Chicago Bulls to tank.
It seems like a reasonable request for a team without that much talent.
The Bulls were already struggling to score points without Derrick Rose. Then the front office took Luol Deng away from them, replacing him with a player (Andrew Bynum) who was immediately waived. Competing with the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat seems like a hopeless endeavor, and maximizing the value of a draft pick would be beneficial for future success.
But not in Noah's world.
"There's no tanking, and that's it," the former Gator told ESPN Chicago's Joe Greenberg after the All-Star small forward was shipped off to the Cleveland Cavaliers. And he backed up his words with some inspired play, steering Chicago to a 7-3 record over its past 10 games.
The long-haired center isn't backing off his stance either.
After a hard-fought triple-overtime victory against the Orlando Magic, one in which he recorded 26 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and 49 minutes of action, Noah had a harsh message for fans with tanking thoughts in their mind, per ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell:
I don't say nothing to those fans. It's all good. You're allowed to have your opinion. It's just...that's not a real fan to me. You know what I'm saying? You want your team to lose? What is that? But it's all good.
And he continued what would become more of an impassioned speech:
Do you really think we talk about it?. No way, man. No way. We don't talk about those things. It's like it's so far from our reality. You know what I mean? We play for a coach [Tom Thibodeau] that's...it's difficult. It's difficult every day. We grind hard every day, and we give it our best effort every day. You know we're playing Orlando, they're down three guys—we're fighting.
Like I said, don't talk about tanking around Noah.
His words basically sum up the schism between management and the people who spend time on the court during games.
A front office can trade players away, make poor signings and do everything in its power to promote losing. Writers, like ChicagoNow.com's Doug Thonus, might advocate that it's better "to maximize their potential going forward rather then making the playoffs to get annihilated in a farcical matchup."
But a coach isn't going to give less than 100 percent. Neither are the players, especially not a passionate, vein-popping, spit-slinging, energy-filled yelling machine like Noah.
On second thought, perhaps you'd be better off wielding scissors, shooting a layup or rooting for the Heat. Tanking talk seems to be worse than that trifecta.