Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You're jokin', right Joakim? No-kim?

Nailed that title. Who doesn't love a little play on words? Just me? OK, well, it's my blog, so too bad. Joakim... Noakim... get it? Still nothing? Anyways, the blog title says it plain and clear: other sports on occasion. This is an occasion.

What's better than being the best team in the NBA to not make the playoffs and still getting the #1 pick in the upcoming draft? Having the guy you took in the first round this year in trouble with the law! Wait a second… That’s not better… Actually, that sucks! In fact, I can’t think of a faster way to kill a GM's buzz…

Joakim Noah, who won back-to-back National Championships with the Florida Gators, was picked 9th overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 2007 NBA Draft. His rookie campaign was not spectacular, but Noah was able to average almost 7 points per game (over 11 PPG in his last 10) and 6 rebounds per game on a Bulls team that doesn’t have much talent around him (with the exception of perhaps a streaky Ben Gordon). Again, while not a Rookie of the Year candidate, Noah showed improvement and tenacity in his game that promised good things for the Bulls in coming seasons. So, imagine GM John Paxton’s surprise when, right on the heels of learning the Bulls won the Draft Lottery, his newly-crowned franchise player was arrested for marijuana possession and having an open alcohol container in his car. Adding insult to injury was the fact that, on the very day of his arrest, Noah was given traffic citations for driving on a suspended license and not wearing a seat belt.

I know this guy is only 23-years old, but come on! At some point, after you are drafted, don’t you have to realize that your actions now affect the fortunes of entire sports franchises, worth hundreds of millions of dollars? Hasn’t there been enough negative press surrounding the antics of guys like Pacman Jones and Michael Vick (or even in Noah’s own sport, guys like Ron Artest and Rafer Alston), that even a rookie that has been living in a cave while at school should know what kind of damage these guys can do? Where does this stuff come from?

Maybe (just maybe), the roots go deeper than their pampered college-superstar lifestyles. The most troubling part of this whole mess for me was the reaction of Noah’s father, as reported by "I don't understand all that fuss for just drinking a beer on the street.”

At any rate, while NBA Commissioner David Stern is certainly no Roger Goodell (NFL Commissioner) when it comes to disciplining players for actions that negatively affect league image, he may still choose to take games from Noah next season (who also faces up to six months in jail related to the marijuana charge), attempting to send yet another message to the NBA’s talent that they are not above the law.

(*fake quote warning*) Lastly, when asked for comment on why he felt Noah was given the traffic citations by University of Florida campus police (did I forget to mention that?), incarcerated QB Michael Vick was heard to say, “What?! After he won two championships for them… They should be ashamed of themselves!! How could they cite him for a suspended license that wasn’t even his, man?”


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