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Noah apologizes to ref, says ‘I was wrong’

Joakim Noah Gary Forbes AarGray

Joakim Noah, Gary Forbes, Aaron Gray

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Updated: March 25, 2012 3:38PM

Bulls center Joakim Noah apologized to NBA referee Derrick Collins for disputing a foul call and throwing a ball at Collins, leading to two technical fouls and his ejection from Saturday night’s 102-101 victory over the Toronto Raptors at the United Center.

“I just want to apologize to the referee for coming at him like that. I was wrong,’’ Noah said after practice Sunday at the Berto Center. ‘’I was frustrated at the call. I overreacted. And I just hope he reads this and accepts my apology.’’

Noah was upset when he was called for a foul against Andrea Bargnani with 1:28 left in the second quarter. After Collins gave Noah a technical foul for arguing the call, Noah threw the ball — a purposeful chest pass — across the lane in the direction of Collins. Referee Scott Foster immediately gave Noah a second technical foul and automatic ejection. A frustrated Noah directed foul language in the direction of all the officials as he left the court.

Noah said he has not been contacted by the league. But it would not be a surprise if he was suspended for the incident. In February, Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was suspended for two games for throwing a ball at a referee. But Rondo’s toss, while not as forceful as Noah’s, was from closer range and made direct contact with official Sean Wright.

“That’ll be [up to] the league,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said when asked if he thought Noah might be suspended. “I thought it was minimal.’’

But after the game, which the Bulls won on Luol Deng’s tip-in at the buzzer in overtime, Thibodeau was unhappy with Noah’s overreaction and ejection.

“I was disappointed in the technical foul and then getting thrown out,’’ he said. “We are shorthanded already. We can’t have that.’’

Thibodeau said he talked to Noah about the incident Sunday. “We handled that stuff internally,’’ he said. “Some frustration on his part. He’ll be fine.’’

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