Joakim Noah’s rookie year didn’t go smoothly.
The Chicago Bulls finished 33-49. Scott Skiles got fired. Under interim coach Jim Boylan, the organization suspended Noah one game for berating assistant coach Ron Adams at a shootaround. In an almost unprecedented move, veterans Ben Wallace and Adrian Griffin voted to extend the suspension to two games.
To Noah’s credit, he looked inward after that difficult moment and accepted responsibility for his actions. And the best part? He attended a holiday dinner at Adams’ house shortly thereafter.
“That incident didn’t affect our relationship at all,” Adams said in a phone conversation with NBC Sports Chicago. “We were fine with it. We were fine before it and a half-hour after it. He and I were good friends, continue to be good friends, do social things together.
“He’s a good friend because he cared enough to be willing to tell you what’s on his mind. It might be something helpful to you, something he observed about you. It might be something difficult to hear. But it was his truth. That’s who he is.”
The Bulls are honoring Noah Thursday night at the United Center. Adams, an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, won’t be there. But he has memories to last a lifetime:
NBC Sports Chicago: What was coaching him like?
Adams: He was really pure. He was all about winning. Whatever skills he had, he used them to the fullest. He broadened his skill set, got better offensively. He played the game extremely hard. He expected a lot of his teammates, even as a rookie. He called some veterans out in the locker room when things weren’t going well. He was a purist. That’s what I enjoyed about coaching him.
When the game is over, he’s pretty much left it on the floor. That adage has been around forever, but he exemplified it. All players have good games and bad games, but from the standpoint of effort, he was always in control of that. And you never had to worry about it. I don’t know if there’s a higher compliment you can give a player.
NBC Sports Chicago: Was his passion ever difficult?
Adams: He was a new-age athlete. He’d tell his coach what was on his mind, in front of the group or otherwise. To me, that was one of his good traits. He’d get pretty excited about things. But he cared enough to speak up. And people listened because he had put in the work and made that total commitment to his craft and his team.
More on Joakim Noah night
- Billy Donovan on Joakim Noah: 'He's changed my life'
- John Paxson on Joakim Noah: 'He's the perfect story'