It’s been nice to watch Joakim Noah flourish in his second NBA season.
Watching the pony-tailed Noah race down the court after a steal for a game-winning dunk in Game 6 of Chicago’s playoff series win against the Boston Celtics brought back to mind the energy he brought to the Gators during the 2006-07 championship years.
Gone are the complaints about Noah’s attitude and inability to develop a mid-range jumper during his rookie season with the Bulls. Noah has found a niche on this Bulls team by playing to his strengths. He’s rebounding more. He’s scoring baskets in transition. With point guard Derrick Rose as the focal point of Chicago’s offense, Noah has faced less pressure to score than he did in his rookie year.
It’s a lesson that some of the current Gator big men could learn from. Florida coach Billy Donovan said the main reason why Kenny Kadji and the now departed Allan Chaney didn’t play as much was their lack of conditioning. Donovan said one of Noah’s greatest strengths as a player was his ability to fight through fatigue.
If Kadji takes the offseason as seriously as Noah did from his freshman to sophomore year at Florida, maybe the Gators will have a chance to surprise some people next season. But Noah is an example of how a little extra work in conditioning and the ability to fight through discomfort can lead to NBA millions and a successful pro career.