Joakim Noah made a guest appearance on the Pardon My Take podcast, where he shared an interesting story about his first encounter with Kevin Garnett. Ever since he was a little kid, Garnett was Noah’s idol, and in his rookie season, he couldn’t wait to play the Celtics for the first time. Garnett joined the Celtics in 2007, which was Noah’s first season with the Bulls.
In the podcast, Noah said his first meeting with Garnett didn’t go the way he planned. The Celtics were up by a significant margin, and Noah got a chance to play, which was a perfect opportunity for him to interact with his idol. Noah previously worked out with a skills coach that was training with Garnett throughout the years. He was so starstruck with Garnett that the only way he thought about approaching Garnett was to mention they both worked out with the same coach. To Noah’s surprise, Garnett lashed at him immediately and started to cuss him out.
“The first time I play KG, I’m hyped as hell. We’re playing the Celtics; I am on the Bulls. They were up by 30 points, and I was in the game. It was the last seconds, and nobody gives a s**t. So we are at the free-throw line, and I remember asking him a question about working out with Joe. I was trying to be cool. I just wanted to say something to my idol, and he just looked over, and he was like, “who the f**k are you talking too.” So when he said that I was like oh s**t. It got worse when he saw I didn’t say anything. I guess he thought I was a pussy or something. He kept getting louder and louder.”
Garnett’s mind games had a substantial impact on Noah, who immediately realized he needs to get tougher and always remember that when you step on a basketball court, it’s similar to stepping into a battle. That moment also shaped Noah’s career because he realized he would need to compete hard every single night, no matter who’s he playing against.
“From that moment on, I swear to god I am going at him. That moment changed my career because, from that moment, I learned that there is no love in battle, and this is competition. That moment changed everything.”