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LeBron James attracts many pests, but Joakim Noah might be the best player to ever beef with him

LeBron James attracts many pests, but Joakim Noah might be the best player to ever beef with him


– NBA history includes
a whole spectrum of guys one could probably describe as love them if they’re on your team, hate them if they’re the opponent. Joakim Noah has always
been one of those guys. At his best, he was known for
being emotional and physical. He talked trash and backed
it up with excellent play. While Jo’s teammates may
love him for all that, he’s made an enemy of every opponent, and in the early 2010s,
LeBron James was his opponent very, very often. We’ve established in
the Beef History canon that during the years LeBron’s teams dominated the Eastern Conference, the playoff teams they crushed employed players who built large
parts of their NBA personas around needling the King. Noah was never just a
professional LeBron irritant, he was one of the best players
in the NBA in his prime. But like DeShawn Stevenson
and Lance Stephenson, Noah’s playoff runs all hit dead ends, most of them LeBron-shaped
and most of those flecked with morsels of beef. Let’s go back. Joakim and LeBron are the same age, which, is that weird to you? It’s a little weird, right? But Noah came into the
league four years later. When LeBron was a high school
star dazzling at ABCD camps, Joakim was at the same camps
working the hot dog stand. While LeBron went straight to the NBA after his senior year of high school, Joakim did a fifth year in prep school, then became one of the
less heralded recruits in the much heralded 2004
Florida recruiting class. Noah developed into one of
the most exciting prospects in the country and helped lead the Gators to the 2006 National Championship. Instead of jumping to the NBA and becoming a no doubt lottery pick, Noah took a risk and
stayed for one more year, and as it turned out,
one more championship against Ohio State, the team LeBron said he would have played for
had he gone to college and a team that represented
LeBron even in his absence. Not important to the
beef, just kinda funny. Staying in college not only
built Noah’s reputation as a winner but as a heel. His appearance, his frantic style of play, and his emotional outbursts made him one of those guys
we were talking about. Noah was sensitive to the
volume of vitriol he attracted, but he never toned down his personality. Not after the second title
where he famously danced. Not at the NBA draft where
he famously did this. Noah got picked ninth by the Bulls the same year a guy his age
made his first NBA Finals. Noah didn’t play a ton as a rookie but behaved like a brat enough that his Bulls teammates
voted to suspend him. His only real connection
with LeBron that season came distantly when Ben Wallace, one of the veterans who pushed hardest for Noah’s suspension, got traded to the Cavs. LeBron remarked that Wallace
previously had to be the daddy of that young Bull squad, including Noah. The first direct confrontation
between Noah and James, like more than just basketball wrastling, would come two seasons later. LeBron’s Cavs loved to dance, and when they hosted the
Bulls in December ’09, they were in a particularly dancing mood, in the tunnel, during
warmups, on the bench. By the fourth quarter,
when Cleveland was up big and LeBron did a little
celebratory shimmy, Joakim had had enough. Noah, of course known
himself for celebrating, shouted at LeBron from the bench while he was shooting free throws. LeBron departed the free
throw line to confront Joakim, and an argument ensued. Noah explained his objection
was to the showboating during a blowout. He respected LeBron, but when you’re losing the
way the Bulls were losing, the dances get frustrating. LeBron insisted the Cavs always danced. They were just fun guys who love the game. But he also kinda salted
the wounds of a guy who’d shot just two for seven in a loss for a team that
had started the season with a lot of those. Those Bulls would turn
their season around, at least enough to make the
playoffs as an eight seed. That meant a 2010 first round matchup with LeBron and the Cavs, and plop some more beef on the grill. Noah was eager to shock the world, but the Cavs whooped Chicago in game one. Joakim got embarrassed by a
spin move from 38-year-old Shaq, and after tangling with Anderson Varejao, got booed every time he touched the ball. Noah said he had no friends on the Cavs, except Danny Green anyway. Didn’t know him, didn’t care about him. But he had been getting to
know the city of Cleveland, and speaking to TNT, said some things the locals wouldn’t like. – I just stay in my hotel room, man Every time I look out my window, it’s pretty depressing out here, man. It’s bad, it’s bad. – [Host] LeBron dismissed the comment as a demand for attention. – I know he’s one of those guys
who really likes attention. – [Host] Although when a
reporter joked that Noah also disparaged his hometown of Akron, he got serious for a second. – [Reporter] He said Akron sucks too. – Did he? – [Host] The Cavs trounced
the Bulls again in game two, and LeBron took an
opportunity to embarrass Noah with a gorgeous up and under. After that game, a reporter asked Noah if he regretted the Cleveland comments. He did not. – I mean, I never heard anybody say, I’m going to Cleveland on vacation. What’s so good about Cleveland? – And Noah followed up with a
decent game three in Chicago. He stripped LeBron on a crucial possession
in the final minute, did a little kung fu fighting to deny him a crucial last second rebound, and helped Chicago grab a victory. Noah continued to impress,
impress LeBron in fact, with a 21-point, 20-rebound
performance in game four, but Cleveland dominated that game and ended up taking the series in five. Nevertheless, Noah had
established himself as a pro, not just a pest, not just a
talker, a real rising star. LeBron became a free agent that summer and took a meeting with the Bulls because they had not just cap space, but young talent in the form
of Noah and Derrick Rose. It would have been a hell of
a team, but it didn’t happen. The decision was to join
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a new Miami Heat big three that Noah immediately
dubbed, Team Hollywood, which yeah, fair. Chicago outperformed Miami that season, posting the NBA’s best
record at 62 and 20. Noah missed a big chunk of
that season after hand surgery, but returned in time
to close out the Bulls’ regular season sweep of the Heat with good defense on LeBron’s final shot. Those top two teams in
their conference met in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals. Chicago’s defense locked
LeBron up in game one, but from there, the
lesser regular season team took over the series. While Miami packed their
bags for the NBA Finals, all Noah could do was throw
backhanded compliments. – Miami’s a hell of a team. They’re Hollywood as hell,
but they’re still very good. – [Host] Chicago and
Miami were one and two in the East again in 2012, but Rose’s injury early in the playoffs sidetracked a potential
conference final rematch. And Rose was still out the following year, which left Noah to lead the Bulls. Chicago struggled that season, yet Noah became an All Star, and they had some success against Miami. Noah put a flagrant foul on LeBron in a Bulls win in January 2013. But he was sidelined with a foot injury when Chicago halted Miami’s record-setting 27-game win streak in March. Yet again, the playoffs brought
the Bulls and Heat together. The Rose-less Bulls were doomed, but Noah made sure they
went down fighting. In game two, Noah got a technical for grappling a bit with LeBron, then got himself ejected at
the end of a blowout loss. In a game three loss,
Noah made himself a meme by clapping obnoxiously
while LeBron and Chris Bosh were chastising Mario Chalmers. But that was the best Joakim could do. Miami won in five, then
went on to win it all. Noah insisted he didn’t care, but later admitted he didn’t
feel good about it at all. And the Heat got to rub
it in the next season, handing out their rings on opening night with the Bulls in town. That would be another
down year for the Bulls and for the beef. LeBron expressed respect
for his All Star teammate. – One of the best big
men we have in our game. He’s been scouring the board every game. You know what he’s capable of doing, both offensively and defensively. – Noah still talked plenty of trash in a regular season win over the Heat, after which he said, the Bulls
played with a lot of hate. He just wanted desperately to beat LeBron, but it would never happen
with the King in Miami, not on the biggest stage. In the 2014 off-season,
LeBron returned to Cleveland and to the central division. Noah said he was happy for his rival and hoped to kick his
ass as much as possible. The games that season were the usual, the occasional hard foul
and a little bit of jawing. Like in April, when Noah did
a classic annoying guy move and tried to snatch away a dead ball to start the next possession. That led to an argument, which
led to Noah calling James a. After that, Noah was
anxious to meet LeBron again in the post-season and finally get a
playoff victory over him. And he got his chance. The Bulls and Cavs met
in 2015 in second round, a big enough opportunity that Noah said he was actually excited
to go to Cleveland. LeBron compared Joakim to his
teammate, Kendrick Perkins, alluding to that archetype of a player you hate to compete against
but love if he’s your teammate. Well, Joakim followed through. In game three of that series, Noah said something to James that apparently crossed the line. Said LeBron, “I’m a
father with three kids. “It got very disrespectful. “I’m okay with competing against Jo. “I love the competitive nature, “but we should leave it there. “The disrespectful
words that he said to me “were uncalled for.” Whatever it was was enough
that later in the game, LeBron dunked on Noah,
then snapped at him, enough to get a technical foul, which only got Jo going again. Chicago actually took a
two-one lead after that game, but it would be the high point, in beef and in Bulls performance, in a six-game Cavs victory. And that was pretty much the end. The Bulls fell apart, and Noah missed most of the next season. He joined the Knicks in
2016, just in time to attend another opening night
LeBron ring ceremony. He still sounded hungry to
meet LeBron in the post-season. – To get where we want to get
to, we gotta beat that guy. – [Host] But that was not
in the cards for the Knicks. As they entered their mid-30s, LeBron was trying to
grab more rings in LA, while Noah was trying to stick around. He actually considered
joining forces with LeBron and then there were
rumors he might workout for the in-city rival. But everyone knows the
real meat of this beef is in the past. Noah was one of the best players on one of the best opponents
LeBron had to defeat to reach the Finals, yet Joakim left Chicago
with a record of five and 16 in playoff games against LeBron’s teams spread across four series. He met the same fate as so
many other notable LeBron foes, but I reckon his performance
commanded more respect than any of them, even while his conduct
was equally disrespectful. LeBron never fell to Joakim Noah, but he really, really, really
hated playing against him and that counts for something too.

100 comments

damn that bulls team was hella fun. we got so close, but lebron and derrick rose's knee stopped us everytime. just think if lebron and wade had joined the bulls instead of the heat. we would have won 4 rings, bet

Whenever I first heard joakim Noah talk I was shocked I didn’t think he would sound cool I thought he’d have a soft was voice😂

Joakim Noah was a "love him on your team, hate him otherwise guy" for sure…

Except on the Knicks, we just hated him

I can only imagine how this so-called King can handle trash talking from the likes of Bird, Laimbeer, Jordan and others.

lebron has been my favorite player since my mother showed me his game vs Carmelo in high school but the disrespect Noah gets is unjust

Lebron never lost to them clowns ever in any uniform hahaha not even sure they ever even took him to 7 games. Not sure who lebron owns more. The pacers, the raptors, or the bulls

Joahkim Noah had no heart, he was not and is not a winner, and he didn’t have the backbone to put his head down and squeeze every ounce of talent out of himself… Instead he left most of it on the table.

Not sure this should be classified as beef. It's more like… "a dude has some issues and the other dude won championships and built schools." (Also think jokehim is overrated and the ugliest NBA player ever.)

Thanks for all the LeBron beefs… they absolutely fascinating…. I thought only Toronto Raptors were getting LEBRONTO;d ,

Noah wasnt the best player to beef with Lebron bc Lebron was the best player to beef with Steph back in 2016 when Bron was jealous of Steph taking over the league so he cried to Adam Silver and got Draymond suspended to "win" the beef.

Sb nation plz do another hockey video it doesn’t matter to me but I wouldn’t mine you talking about the Bouchard riots

Soooooo……basically……Joakim Noah is just a taller, lighter skinned Draymond Green with 3 less rings and lesser talent? Got it

Peoples hate on LeBron because he is now the true, undisputed, undeniable, unanimous best and greatest ever GOAT. Real talk 💯

I honestly dislike Joahkim Noah's attitude but I respect his hunger and drive to be a winner. Draymond reminds me so much of him. His career of stardom ended too quickly. He was a great player. I hope he goes to the Clippers. It will be a great matchup.

I hated watching the heat in these flop fests barely win. And when Lebron went back to CLE, they should've been up 3-1 if the refs caught the blat timeout

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