Noah penalty not all Bulls have to worry aboutBy: David Whitley
MIAMI—Quick, somebody get Tom Thibodeau a new clipboard and Joakim Noah a bar of soap.
Chicago’s coach needs to figure out a new strategy before it’s too late. Chicago’s center needs to wash out his mouth, though it’s already too late to avoid what’s coming.
VIDEO: Watch Joakim Noah's homophobic slur
Noah should get fined big-time for yelling a homophobic slur at a fan Sunday night. His frustration made a fitting subplot to the overall theme of the evening.
After zipping through the regular season on the wings of Derrick Rose, the Bulls have lost their identity. Or more precisely, Miami has stolen it.
“We call ourselves a defensive team,” Rose said, shaking his head after the Heat’s 96-85 win.
Miami is personifying that term. You can see it in the way the Heat have put Rose in a straitjacket. You can see it in the dwindling shooting percentages.
You could also see it Sunday on Noah’s lips. He plopped down on the bench in the first quarter, turned around and called a fan an (expletive)—the same slur hurled by Kobe Bryant last month at referee Bennie Adams.
Like Bryant, Noah’s outburst was also caught on tape. In a nice juxtaposition, TNT then ran a commercial in which Grant Hill and Jared Dudley of Phoenix urge people to be more sensitive about what they say.
The “Think B4 You Speak” campaign is sponsored by the NBA and the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
The league has been in damage control mode since Kobe’s blurted out a gay slur. It hit him for $100,000, the largest fine in league history for a verbal offense.
Now David Stern is dancing on the head of a politically correct pin. Is slurring a fan worse than slurring a ref?
Was Bryant’s offense more offensive because he’s one of the league’s faces?
“I got caught up,” Noah said. “I didn’t mean any disrespect to anybody.”
The NBA didn’t suspend Bryant, so Noah won’t have to worry about that. He and the Bulls have enough to think about before Game 4 Tuesday night. Like how can they get the MVP to start playing like one?
It’s not that Rose isn’t trying. It’s just that Miami can throw more athletic bodies in his way than any other team. If he gets by one defender, another one is usually there to greet him.
When he passes, you never know what you’ll get out of Noah, Luol Deng, Keith Bogans or Taj Gibson.
The Bulls got 26 points and 17 rebounds out of Carlos Boozer on Sunday. That’s not necessarily encouraging. Even on night when a second scoring option materialized, Chicago made only 32 of 77 shots (42 percent) and had few Rose-powered fast breaks. At least that was better than the 34-percent shooting in Game 2.
“We have a system,” LeBron James said. “Guys are on a string, and if one guy gets beat, another guy is there to help him. We’re very good.”
Here’s what’s really depressing for the Bulls. On a night when James and Dwyane Wade combined to make 12 of 30 shots, they still lost by 11.
“I came into this game knowing they were going to try to load up on myself an D-Wade,” James said. “So I just changed my game plan.”
James became a point forward, handing out 10 assists. A lot of those went to Chris Bosh, who was last seen having his manhood questioned against Boston.
Bosh had 34 points Sunday night, which more than negated what Boozer did. And what’s really, really depressing for Chicago is the knowledge James and Wade aren’t going to clank it up like that again.
“It is definitely frustrating,” Rose said. “Our will wasn’t there tonight, where they still found a way to win.”
The Bulls hadn’t lost two straight games since before Valentines Day. They haven’t lost three straight all season. What’s happening now is enough to make them Speak B4 They Think.
Thibodeau was the NBA Coach of the Year. It will be interesting to see what he decides to do for Game 4.
Almost as interesting as what Stern decides to do.