CHICAGO – The city with some of the nation’s toughest, if ineffective, gun-control laws got a little more legislation Tuesday night at United Center.
Joakim Noah‘s six-shooters have been holstered for good.
Noah, the Chicago Bulls center who posted the second triple-double of his career Tuesday in a 100-89 victory over the Boston Celtics, never flashed the imaginary pistols that he’d been using the past few seasons to celebrate successful jump shots. He scored 11 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and passed out 10 assists, but even as he hit four of his seven field-goal attempts, Noah avoided the pantomime that had become something a trademark.
An unacceptable trademark after Friday’s events in Newtown, Conn.
“You can’t joke around with things like that,” Noah said after the game. “Too many people are dying because of guns. We have a problem here with guns. So just trying to be a little bit compassionate about what’s going on.”
The gesture began in practice back in 2010-11, Noah explained, and eventually turned into a habit. “I hit a jump shot in Keith Bogans‘ face and I started doing the guns and kept doing it,” he said. “It was kind of like a funny, comical thing. But I guess we’re in a situation right now where it’s not funny.”
Like most people across America, Noah was horrified by the elementary school shootings that left 20 children and six adults dead Friday. But the 6-foot-11 center had participated in September in a “Peace Tournament” on Chicago’s South Side, a community effort that brought together warring gang members for a day of basketball. The Windy City tops the U.S. in shootings and gun homicides despite carrying some of the strictest anti-gun regulations on its books.
Naismith Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and several Bulls players participated as coaches and talked about gun violence and conflict resolution with the gang members that day.
Noah never has owned a gun, he said Tuesday. And he reacted instinctively on Twitter after learning of the Newtown tragedy.
This is so f*cked up…There needs to be some kind of gun control.. For real
— Joakim Noah (@JoakimNoah) Dec. 14, 2012
“It’s what happened in Connecticut. That was shocking to a lot of people,” Noah said Tuesday. “But things like this have been going on. We have a serious problem with that in Chicago. It’s crazy, man.
“You just hear about this summer, a movie theater. It’s just happening all the time. It’s horrible. … This gun thing in this country is no joke.”
Noah made four of his 12 shots against Brooklyn on Saturday but none of them came on his sidewinding, “toronado” jump shot that elicited the pistol moves. At Memphis on Monday, it looked as if he flashed his “guns” momentarily after one jumper, then caught himself.
Noah said he got few complaints over the past few seasons from fans and no requests from NBA headquarters in New York to abandon the practice. “I had never really thought about it,” he said.
An emotional player who earned Boston coach Doc Rivers‘ praise as the Bulls’ “point guard” in Derrick Rose‘s absence – hey, he finished with two more assists than Rajon Rondo – Noah said he would find some other way to express his excitement on the court. He likes to think of himself as a “point center” but the days of pointing and holstering those index fingers are over.