A few hours before Ben Wallace was shipped from the Chicago Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I chatted with Tyrone Green, Joakim Noah’s former New York City travel-league coach and close personal friend.
Green spent time with Noah on Wednesday night following Chicago’s 110-102 overtime loss to the New Jersey Nets.
“He’s in good spirits,” Green said. “Next year will be his year. It was just like when I first coached him in travel league, when he first played in high school, when he first played for the Gators. It always took him a year to adapt.”
Noah’s future appeared much brighter a few hours later. With Wallace gone, it appears the Bulls are ready to rebuild their frontline around the young tandem of Noah and Tyrus Thomas. Drew Gooden will help as well, giving Chicago a third high-energy guy to score and grab rebounds inside.
Wallace, of course, was one of the ringleaders behind the player’s vote that extended Noah’s suspension to a second game for insubordination. Free of the tension of trying to please the team’s veterans, Noah might actually get back to having fun again playing basketball, which may in turn make him more productive.
Green, a Police Athletic League coach in Astoria, Queens, also had promising things to say about incoming UF freshman 5-foot-8 point guard Erving Walker, who plays at nearby Christ the King High School in Middle Village, N.Y.
“I worked with him when he was a freshman at Adidas Elite Camp,” Green said. “He’s the real deal. Very smooth. Very smart. He’ll go out and score 25 points and you wouldn’t even know it. He doesn’t bring attention to himself. On the court, he’s all business.”