The Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls first round series went a tad longer than most expected. The Pacers tested the league’s best team record-wise to five games in what was a very physical series. So physical in fact, Pacers’ Josh McRoberts tangled with Bulls’ Joakim Noah, Tyler Hansbrough mixed it up with Noah and, well, you can see a common name being mentioned here.
Now that the series is over and the Pacers have been eliminated, Pacers’ Danny Granger recently said Noah is a coward for what Granger perceived as cheap-shots by Noah:
“He pulled a cowardly move,” Granger said. “He cheap-shotted a couple of my teammates, and one gets thrown out …
“The refs never catch what he did … it’s cowardly. And I’m going to say something about it. I wanted to say something about it all the way to the game was over. I just don’t think the game should be played that way. You can play hard and fight and battle, but when you start cheap-shotting people it gets out of hand.”
Of course Noah responded to Granger’s comment:
“I played dirty? OK. I’m just trying to win basketball games, man,” Noah said. “It’s the name of the game.
“I’m just out there trying to do what I gotta do. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to their team. They play hard as hell. They were competitive. I don’t have anything bad to say about them. Everybody saw what happened out there. Now you want to call me a dirty player? I don’t think I’ve ever been a dirty player. It is what it is. It’s OK.”
I can appreciate Granger’s point and intent. He wants to defend his teammates as a teammate should but in case Granger forgot, basketball is a physical game where players will get hit, hard! Especially in the playoffs.
Moreover, it’s no secret Noah is a very active, physical player. He gives his all on the court for Chicago and will do his best to get underneath the skin and minds of opposing players — as he did here with Granger. However, if Granger really wanted to send a message to Noah, he had his chances during the series.
Now I’m not advocating flagrant fouls but as much as Noah dished it out to Indiana, Granger could have returned the favor. Sending a message on the court is a much more effective way of communicating your displeasure with another player.
Instead, Granger took the high road, and voiced his displeasure with Noah after the series was over. Kudos to him for keeping his cool on the court and not retaliating at Noah and perhaps putting Indiana in a position where the team might have had to play a game without its star player in the series.
But to reiterate the point, this is the playoffs. The physicality of the game cranks up a few notches. A fact even McRoberts, who tangled with Noah in the series, knows and appreciates:
“I’m not mad about it,” McRoberts said. “He got a good hit on me. They caught me trying to hit him back.
“It’s part of the game. I’m not going to say it’s dirty. That’s Game 5 of a playoff series. You can’t say it’s dirty, it’s part of basketball.”
Finally, if Granger thought Noah’s physicality in their opening round playoff series was “cowardly,” imagine what he would say if he played in the playoffs back in the day where clotheslining a player was a simple foul and no one was subject to ejection. Just ask former NBA players Kurt Rambis and Kevin McHale.