If you’ve ever heard the expression “kill your idols,” and wondered why anyone would say such a thing, you likely only have to ask Joakim Noah to get an educated guess at what might have inspired such a saying.
The University of Florida product grew up a massive fan of legendary Boston Celtics big man Kevin Garnett, and made the mistake of letting him know only to see his idol snarl back at him unthankfully. In an epic “oral history” of The Big Ticket’s career, Celtics champion forward Paul Pierce shared his recollection of that incident with author Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.
“I remember Noah looked up to KG,” began the Inglewood native.
«He was like, «Man, KG, I had your poster on my wall, I looked up to you, man,» added the Hall of Fame forward.
«And then [Garnett] just said something like that, and was like «[expletive] you, Noah.» I was like, «Whoa.» This kid fresh out of college, looks up to KG, just said he had his poster on the wall, and he tells him that! It crushed him.»
«It crushed Noah,» reiterated Pierce. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1432070589871796228?s=20
But like all true competitors, Noah didn’t let it phase him for long, and in fact, turned it into a lesson that would help guide his career in the NBA moving forward. «It changed my career,» related Noah on NBC’s Pardon My Take (h/t to Sportscasting.com’s Joe Kozlowski). https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1431919873630801921?s=20
«That moment changed my career because from that moment, on I learned that there is no love in battle, and this is competition,» he explained.
«At the end of the day, I’m trying to rip your [expletive] 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,» suggested Noah. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1431844071245557761?s=20
Just about every player who sticks in the league has their own «welcome to the NBA» moment, but few have such a vivid tale at the hands of one of the greatest big men to play the game’s hands. And while there is perhaps no love lost between Noah and Garnett because of that incident, it was an object lesson for the ages that probably didn’t reflect how KG feels about such players in general when he isn’t, as Noah puts it, «trying to rip your … head off». https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1431798804525760516?s=20
«Don’t got no generational prejudice,» wrote Garnett in his recent book «KG A to Z». «Different times, different cultures, different hoopers.» «I appreciate these young hard-goers,» he added. «I feel their hunger. Fresh blood. Fresh energy. The league thrives on renewal and reinvention.» Evidently, he just appreciated them in a very different sort of way when the games count. This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=57450,57429,57423,57421] [listicle id=57431]