Noah benched by teammates for one game

Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah (13) grabs a rebound over Charlotte Bobcats forward Emeka Okafor (50) during the first half of the Bulls' 109-97 win in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008.

AP Photo/Chuck Burton
Published: Monday, January 14, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 14, 2008 at 1:01 a.m.

ATLANTA — Chicago Bulls rookie Joakim Noah was benched for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks — by his teammates.

They delivered a unanimous vote after the rookie from Florida was involved in a confrontation with assistant coach Ron Adams in practice before Friday’s game at Philadelphia.

Noah was inactive for the Philadelphia game for internal disciplinary reasons, but the players told interim coach Jim Boylan one game was not enough.

‘‘We have a chance to salvage this season and we just need everybody on the page,’’ said Bulls veteran guard Adrian Griffin. ‘‘It’s one of those things that I believe is going to bring us closer.

‘‘Everyone on this team knows what Joakim can do and we just look forward to getting him back on the court.’’

A subdued Noah, who is averaging 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.3 minutes, sat at his locker before Sunday’s game, a 105-84 loss to the Hawks. Noah sat behind the Bulls bench, wearing street clothes.|

‘‘They just told me what I did was unacceptable and I’m just going to move on from here,’’ Noah said. ‘‘I’ve just got to accept it. What do you want me to say? I’ve just got to move on. There’s nothing I can do about it.’’

When asked if he believes the two-game suspension is too severe, Noah said ‘‘Ask the players who made the decision. I don’t know. ... Do I agree with it? It doesn’t make a difference. I respect my teammates.’’

Boylan, promoted to head coach on Dec. 27 after Scott Skiles was fired, said the suspension resulted from more than one incident.

Boylan called Noah ‘‘a great kid,’’ but noted he’s been involved in ‘‘a couple of situations where he’s been late or not doing what the Chicago Bulls do. So the cumulative aspect of this is definitely part of the reasoning for the players doing what they did.’’

‘‘This isn’t college anymore,’’ Boylan said. ‘‘It’s the NBA. This is professional sports.’’

He said the team felt Noah needed to sit another game.

‘‘They felt it deserved more,’’ Boylan said. ‘‘It was the entire team that felt that way, so I back my team and the decision that they made, and appreciate the leadership that they’ve shown.’’

Atlanta rookie Al Horford, who played with Noah at Florida, called the ninth pick in the draft ‘‘very emotional’’ and ‘‘very competitive.’’

‘‘I just feel it’s a learning experience for everyone in general,’’ Horford said. ‘‘If you cross a line in something like that, there’s consequences to it. ... He wants to win really bad. I think people will figure him out as time goes on.’’

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