Joakim Noah was one assist shy of the fourth triple-double of his career in the Bulls 94-82 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night. The big man scored 17 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out nine assists.
Known around the league as one of the best passing big men in the NBA, Tom Thibodeau essentially runs Chicago’s offense through Noah as he is so adept at making the right pass and finding his teammates for easy scores.
But despite his near accomplishment, Noah wasn’t very happy after the game. Not because he didn’t get the triple-double, but because his teammates were trying so hard to get it for him.
“It’s not really good to play basketball that way, where you’re focusing on your stats,” Noah said to CSN Chicago. “It’s not that cool. But I tried to get it. Jimmy tried to force the shot at the end. It’s not a good look.”
As a team who always handles themselves with class and professionalism, the attempt at Noah’s triple-double could’ve been seen as disrespect towards the Celtics. But first year head coach Brad Stevens didn’t seem to take it that way at all.
“I wasn’t aware of it,” Stevens said. “I’m probably one of the few coaches who doesn’t look at the stat sheet, except for halftime and after games.”
Noah said he realized how close he was with about three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and his teammates openly admitted to trying to help him get the achievement, but Tom Thibodeau – defending his player – said the media was making a far bigger deal about it than it really was.
“You guys [the media] have all that stuff. [Noah] was doing what he was asked to do.”