Why You Shouldn’t Dislike Joakim Noah

As a sports lover and writer, it’s always irritating to see a pro athlete step out of line and do something that causes disruption in a game. But what irritates me even more, is when said events are prompted from an unruly or disrespectful fan or commentator.

Are You Talkin' To Me?

Maybe I’m playing favorites with the most recent occurrence of this because I like Joakim Noah. The Chicago Bulls’ player was fined $50,000 for being caught in a moment and retorting with an offensive gay slur toward a fan who was heckling him.

Was it wrong? Yes.

Would it have happened had he not been prompted by the fan’s initial verbal contribution? No.

As wacky as Noah may appear, as outlandish as his antics can sometimes be, I believe that he is a good kid. (Ugh, am I already at that point in life where I’m calling people younger than me kid?) Anyway, when I see Noah, I still see the same rookie I first met in Orlando during summer league a few years back…carrying a backpack with his contract inside. Literally inside. And I see a kid who, at the time, was so clueless about what was about to hit him as he entered the league. Sure Noah has his moments, like many of these guys. But don’t we all?

I can’t help but think I’d do the same thing he did that night on the court. Actually, I know I would. Not the same verbiage, but I’d most certainly react. It drives me mad to see players hassled. I mean, you can’t forget about Ron Artest back in the day. Player vs. Fan madness. Entertaining to some, stomach-turning to others…like me.

Unfortunately some fans forget that these guys are at WORK. Hello? Would you like it if Noah came to your office and yelled at you for your performance that day? I’m gona go with “NO” on that.

It’s hard to really understand the pressure that any athlete is under when they are at work. And maybe I can see the difference between a job and entertainment because I am smart and clever and write about these guys (and deserve to work on SportsCenter) and see what it all entails. But still, there should be an unspoken mutual respect from those on the court and those in the stands.

Surely there is nothing wrong with cheering, booing, or yelling out in general if you are so inclined. But when you start aggressively directing things toward particular individuals, it’s just not right. And I’ve been to enough NBA games to know that there are, in fact, guidelines established by the arenas that fans are expected to follow while in attendance. Basically don’t act like an idiot or do anything to hinder the experience.

This was disregarded recently, as I’m sure it will be again and again. But I say, if you’re going to fine a player, fine the fan as well. What gives the fan the right to heckle or disrespect someone? And don’t give me the boring old, “Well he makes a gazillion dollars and I paid for my seat and should be able to blah blah blah” excuse.

I’m not buying it. Fans, like this guy, should own up to his actions just like Noah did.

The NBA continues to let fans get away with bad behavior. My gut tells me that this will only make the league’s image worse. (Yes, it’s possible.) Commissioner Stern needs to lay down some sort of solidified clarification on how he wants the NBA to be perceived.

After all, it’s supposed to be team vs. team. Not player vs. fan.

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