Joakim Noah hated LeBron James. It’s the type of hate that was deep and long-running and resulted in depression. James owned the Chicago Bulls during their time that it drained the motivation out of Noah. So fast forward to now, he shares those painful memories to teach about winning together and staying positive despite the challenges.
Joakim Noah’s pep talk
Noah gave a surprise pep talk to the Kenwood Academy girls basketball team, and as expected, he shared some relatable stories when he was still playing. It was an honest, sincere, and heartwarming moment when Noah admitted the losses against LeBron James hurt so badly that it led to his depression.
“I’ve been in the Eastern Conference finals playing against LeBron James, and you know, you losing games by one possession. Up 15 in the 4th quarter and you lose. Game over. Season’s over. Whole city was loving you and now they’re looking at you crazy. Depressed in bed for weeks. I’ve been through that. I know what that feels like. I’m getting goosebumps. This was 10 years ago. I’m still getting goosebumps about that. But you know what, my teammates from those years are my bestfriends today. Different teams, I’m retired. Just had dinner at my house last week. This is your family. These battles that you guys go through, you guys are in the fire together. Adversity. Yeah, we in this together. You guys are going through adversity. It’s time to move on. You have no time to worry about that right now. We locked into the next game.”
James and Noah faced each other 52 times in their careers. LeBron holds a 32-20 winning record over the former Bulls center, including a 16-5 record in Playoffs. His recollection of almost winning over his rival and the city turning against them probably hurt more than anyone could have imagined.
You can’t fault Noah or his teammates for forging life-long relationships. They went to battles together, won some, and lost some. It’s nice they haven’t lost communication after many years.
The hate was real
Joakim played with fire and enthusiasm and laid it all out on the floor every night. He was the locker room presence, the energy guy, and the hustle man every team needed. That emotional part of him got him in foul trouble many times and even got him ejected. He also admitted the times he hated LBJ.
"People always saw the ugly side, and they highlighted that. It was real, man. There were times where I really felt like I hated him. I hated everybody who was in the way. I was like, I’m not feeling you, I’m not trying to be friends with you.”
The French big man also notoriously criticized the city of Cleveland, saying players don’t want to play for the Cavaliers because it was not ideal for vacations and the most boring city in the US.
Now that he is retired and can talk about the personal things, the girls' varsity of Kenwood Academy were lucky to have shared that moment with Noah. In the future, if one or two of them make it to the WNBA, she should use that moment with Joakim as a means of possible learning experience they can apply in their professional careers.