It’s time to celebrate Robinson and Noah
BY JOE COWLEY November 7, 2012 10:56PM
Bulls center Joakim Noah holsters his fingers as he comes out of the game at the end of the fourth quarter as the Chicago Bulls defeat the Miami Heat 103-82 in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday May 15, 2011 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: December 9, 2012 7:49PM
A Picasso or a Van Gogh?
Luciano Pavarotti or Andrea Bocelli?
It’s all a matter of taste.
Nate Robinson’s “flaps down’’ or Joakim Noah’s “guns of glory’’?
No easy answer. Art is art.
“We feed off of both of them,’’ Bulls forward Taj Gibson said when asked about Robinson’s post-big-shot celebration when he puts his arms out like an airplane going in for a landing or Noah’s finger guns a-blazing. “Any little thing you can use to help your team get that edge is good for us.’’
And he means “any little thing.’’
Life without injured star Derrick Rose until at least February is not a bump to get over, it’s a mountain. The league MVP two seasons ago was not only the starter for the Bulls, but the fourth-quarter closer. With that missing, the Bulls have been searching for something to build off of in close games.
They might have gotten a glimpse of that formula in the victory Tuesday against Orlando: Luol Deng carried the offensive weight, and Noah and Robinson provided the fire in crunch time.
Twice after big fourth-quarter shots, Robinson went “flaps down’’ against the Magic, and twice after 19-footers, Noah waved the finger guns before jamming them into the imaginary holster. And their teammates embraced each gesture.
“We definitely feed off energy like that,’’ second-year swingman Jimmy Butler said. “How could you not?’’
More important, Noah and Robinson seem to be feeding off each other. The way Noah sees it, he finally has a partner in on-court-celebration crime. Not an easy thing to find in these parts.
“Nate definitely brings a lot of energy,’’ Noah said. “It’s not just on the court; it’s all the time; it’s off the court. I feel like we need that on this team. Sometimes it gets a little too quiet. He’s a relentless competitor, and I think a lot of that has to do with always being the smallest guy. He’s just a warrior.’’
The feeling’s mutual.
“It’s funny because Jo talks about that all the time,’’ Robinson said. “He says, ‘You got to pick us up; you need to be high energy all the time.’ It’s been working for us.’’
But which celebration is better?
Robinson said Noah’s. Noah said Robinson’s. Butler likes them both, which left Gibson.
“I would say Nate,’’ Gibson said, ‘‘but since Joakim’s a big, people tend to doubt his shot. … He’s so eager to make sure people know he can shoot, so I have to go with Joakim’s.’’
They all agreed on the one person who doesn’t like the on-court antics. That was unanimous.
“It definitely doesn’t get [coach Tom Thibodeau] hyped,’’ Noah said.
“Definitely not,’’ Robinson said.
But here’s why the Bulls are willing to run through a wall for their coach: As much as they know Thibodeau hates anything he feels “takes away from winning,’’ he has been around long enough to know he has to let players play. Old school or not, if that’s what gets the Bulls energy in the last 12 minutes, so be it.
“At times [Thibodeau] doesn’t like that,’’ Gibson said. “He knows it works with this group, he understands it, so he puts up with it.’’
It’s all a matter of taste.