Noah's Remarks Sure to Rile Cavs Fans
But what fodder Joakim Noah has provided with a couple of comments on the city of Cleveland. These comments should further rile up a fan base already ticked at Noah for some perceived slights.
His remarks about Cleveland on Sunday after the Bulls practiced at Quicken Loans Arena: "There's nothing going on. It's bad man. It's bad."
Spoken like a guy who is the son of Yannick Noah who works in Chicago and was about to spend an off-night in Cleveland, where apparently the beds at the Ritz are not sufficient.
Noah was asked if this might prompt more chants from fans related to how they view him. He said: "What? That Cleveland sucks?"
Noah's remarks may seem harmless enough -- Cleveland, after all, is not Chicago, and no playoff series is ever won by Chambers of Commerce. No matter, the words will be eaten up and spit right back at Noah by long-suffering Cleveland fans. These fans take these kind of slights personally. They might admit Cleveland isn't all that, but it's still their "not all that."
Noah is gaining a reputation for candor. The same day he knocked the city of Cleveland -- hey ... as one YouTube "tourism" video states "We're not Detroit" -- he called Boston's Kevin Garnett a dirty player.
About a month ago, Noah criticized LeBron James for dancing on the bench during games, with Noah playing the disrespect card. Noah also said that the Bulls were going to try to "shock the world" when they faced the Cavs, harmless words (what's he supposed to say?) that riled the Cleveland folks.
In the regular season, these comments might be shrugged off. In the playoffs, they are fodder for stories and fans. In Game 1, Noah drew a healthy amount of boos. Those boos will be turned up a few notches in Game 2 Monday night.
But ... the interesting reality about the Cleveland fans' dislike of Noah is they have a Noah on their team in Anderson Varejao -- at least in playing style. Both are hustlers, workers, "energy" guys. Neither are great shooters, but both can score. Varejao quipped he has better hair, but the two share the same passion for hard work and effort and rebounding.
And both can play.
Varejao had a playoff high 15 rebounds in Game 1. Chicago was 6-12 in the 18 games Noah missed this season. Noah is the ultimate "yeah, but if he was on your team ..." player.
But Cleveland is a town that has been much maligned, in sports and in the real world. There is the 45-year championship drought, punctuated by heartbreaking defeats by all three of the city's professional sports teams. The only team to start the ninth inning of Game 7 of a World Series with a lead and lose? Cleveland. The team that launched Michael Jordan's career of greatness with "The Shot"? Cleveland. The NFL team that followed "the Drive" with "the Fumble." Yep.
It's the city that has seen its industrial and manufacturing base dwindle. Jobs have left, and the downtown has suffered. It has had to fight through a burning river and financial default. It also might be the only city in the country to have a salt mine staring at its waterfront. It also willingly tore up its main street, Euclid Avenue, and installed middle-of-the-road bus lanes. This construction cost millions, drove businesses away during construction and now make it difficult to drive down the main road because of all the buses, most of which appear empty or near-empty.
Which leaves the people who live in Cleveland fighting for its good standing. The suburbs are beautiful, there's a great orchestra and you have to love the change of seasons, go the PR words.
As a result, insults are not take lightly -- especially in sports. Expect Noah to get a rousingly negative reception in Game 2.
Whatever gets a fan base going.