Before his 12-year run in the NBA and his nine years on the Bulls, 34-year-old Joakim Noah was once like so many young basketball fans today, an NBA hopeful who idolized Kevin Garnett.
Noah, however, got to compete against childhood idol Garnett during his rookie season with the Bulls. The game didn’t end up going as expected, with Garnett hitting Noah with some of his infamous trash talk.
Noah recently appeared on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast to tell his side of the story beginning in the 2007-08 season.
Garnett had appeared on the podcast earlier this year and was also asked about his beef with Noah. The hosts played Noah a clip of Garnett laughing off the interaction between players during their interview and noted how Noah became visibly agitated.
“I don’t think he remembers because I think the story meant a lot more to me than it did to him,” Noah said. “I had KG posters on my wall, I had a f****** KG jersey growing up. The first time I’m playing KG I’m hype as hell.”
Noah described how he worked up the courage to approach the NBA star during his first game against the Celtics to ask about a trainer they both worked with, Joe Abunassar.
“I just wanted to say something to my idol, and he just looked over like, ‘Yo, who the f*** you talking to? Who the f*** do you think you’re talking to?' When he said that I was like oh s***, I shouldn’t have said that. And then I kind of fell back, knowing I shouldn’t have said that, and then when I didn’t say anything, I guess he thought I was a p*ssy because he kept getting louder and from that moment on, I swear I was going at him. Every single time we play, we’re going at it.”
And onto us, a rivalry is born.
“It changed my career,” Noah said. “That moment changed my career because from that moment, on I learned that there is no love in battle, and this is competition. At the end of the day, I’m trying to rip your f****** head off, you’re trying to rip my head off, let’s go. I’m trying to win just as bad as you’re trying to win. I’m not trying to make no friends. That moment right there changed everything.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the