Maybe it's just because its the first round of the NBA Playoffs and the Chicago Bulls are putting up more of a fight than I expected, but I am more than annoyed with the bunch from the Windy City, now down 3-2 in their series with the Boston Celtics.
Much like the Atlanta Hawks of a year ago, the Bulls are brash, arrogant, and irritating, but for all the wrong reasons. While it's fun to watch a young team come together after years of being horrendous, this is not one of those cases, thanks to four guys in particular.
Quite possibly the most visually enraging player in the NBA today, I've run out of tolerance for the fluffy-haired center/forward.
Before this series, I was content with Noah being a dorky-looking player that was always attempting to translate his college success to the pros.
But during Game 2 in Boston, he kept putting his finger to his mouth in the "shhh" motion every time he or his teammates made a big shot.
Really? This is where we're at in today's NBA? Especially when a game isn't over yet? It's not college anymore, Joakim. This is a man's league with guys that will put you out if you try that in their house.
If I was to compare Noah to a Hawk of '08, it would be Zaza Pachulia, who decided to keep pushing the buttons of Kevin Garnett for the majority of the series the C's won in seven games. But after this classic hit in that Game 7, Zaza learned that is never, ever a good idea.
Boy, do I wish No. 5 was in this series to show Noah where he could put that finger.
I really, really want to like Ben Gordon, but there's part of me that just can't because of his act in Game 4.
Gordon—a stud in this series who is battling Rajon Rondo for biggest breakout star of the playoffs so far—hit a game-tying three-pointer to send the game into a second OT.
Yes, it was a great shot but Gordon turned around and decided to grab his crotch several times in a show of...uhh...manliness? Bravado? A reminder for men to check for testicular cancer? Not surprisingly, ESPN/ABC decided to cut that part out when showing the replays.
For a guy that had come so far in such a short period of time, it took this one action for him to just evaporate into the abyss of classless jerk rather than a money player in my eyes.
I don't need choir boys, but c'mon man, what's the point? In all, this was very Mike Bibby-esque of Gordon, who decided to go the media to complain about Celtics fans being "bandwagon jumpers" during last season's Celtics/Hawks series. How did that work out for you, Mike?
More after the jump...
The newest entry into this playoff feud got his comeuppance Tuesday night in a classic case of cosmic karma.
In the fourth quarter of a close Game 5, Miller got tangled up with Ray Allen, helping Allen get a sixth foul, disabling the Celtics even further.
But it was Miller's laughing afterward that raised the ire of C's color man Tommy Heinsohn, a somewhat unsportsmanlike reaction in what has turned out to be an awesome series.
Miller then amazingly had a chance to tie the game at the end of OT when he got a clear path to the basket with seconds left and was fouled by Rondo.
I said to my roommate that karma is a b*tch and Miller then proceeded to miss the first shot, grimacing and acting like he had been smacked in the dome with a steeeeeeeeeeeeel chair.
The Celtics won and Miller went from villain to sad sack in minutes.
Who is Gray? He is a very tall white bench fixture for the Bulls, a rookie who joined Noah in the aforementioned "shh" bit but has yet to field a second of play in this series.
Guys like this annoy me, talking smack from the outer ring when the fight doesn't directly involve them. Clap, cheer, and pump up your teammates but it's a bit ridiculous when a bench guy thinks he has the license to taunt. Play some minutes and then do something, Aaron.
So why does this team suddenly irritate me so much? I think mostly it's because they seem to think they are entitled to the same treatment and respect as the defending World Champs.
This is a team that has been sub par for a long time, yet are acting like they are the favorites—incredibly ballsy considering they are a No. 7 seed that self-imploded a season ago and are only in this series because of a missed free throw by Paul Pierce in Game 1 and the absence of Garnett.
Bravado and confidence is one thing, unwarranted attitude, gestures, and entitlement are another.
On Thursday, the Celtics go back into enemy territory for Game 6 in what should be a wild and emotional affair between two clubs who find themselves evenly matched and the focus of NBA fans right now.
Let's hope the final taunt on the Celtics' behalf is the final score.
Josh Nason is the publisher and main writer for New England sports and media blog Small White Ball.com. He started contributing to Bleacher Report in '08 and achieved Columnist status in '09. You can reach him at josh [at] smallwhiteball [dot-com].