Tue 23 July 2024

NBA’s Joakim Noah shares basketball and life lessons

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Joakim Noah, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and  two-time NCAA Champion, graced the Jr. NBA Clinic held at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong last Sunday afternoon. He was joined by Natalia Andre and her team from NBA Asia’s Basketball Operations Department. Joakim led in teaching 50 boys and girls in dribbling, passing, defense and simulated 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 matchups.

After the training session, Joakim and Natalia huddled the kids mid-court and had a ‘question and answer’ session with them. Here, Joakim shared a lot of his personal experiences. One that left a lasting impression on the kids was this statement by Joakim. He said, “I got selected to the Chicago Bulls, you guys know the Chicago Bulls? Some of the best times in my life. Fortunately, I was with someone named Derrick Rose. We had a real great, great team.  Unfortunately, the injuries didn’t allow us to reach our full potential to win a championship. But to this day, I’m trying to say something that is very important, even though we didn’t win a championship, those teammates that I had with the Chicago Bulls are still my best friends today! It’s not just about winning”.

Admittedly, I followed this Bulls team in the early 2010’s and I can still remember how their offensive and defensive system worked so well with Tom Thibodeau guiding them.

Joakim Noah was known for his very hard-nosed defending and the passion that he showed on the floor night-in and night-out added fuel to his teammates for many years.

The 6’11 center also shared this very valuable lesson, “When your teammate is down, he falls, you pick him up. ‘I got your back!’ This is important and these are the values. Whether you play basketball or you get another job in life, the reality is, basketball is going to teach you values, values that you’re going to use throughout your life, and that is more important than winning or losing a basketball game!”

Noah’s father was ranked number 3 in world tennis and won the French Open in 1983, while his mother was a 4th runner-up in the 1978 Miss Universe Pageant.

I asked him why he chose basketball over tennis and this is what he had to say, “I think I shied away from tennis right away. I didn’t like the expectations. I think I’m older now, I’m retired, I’m at peace, I’ve shot all the bullets in my gun. I’ve had eight surgeries. But as a kid coming up, I just wanted to be my own man and to be able to play my own sport made sense for me.” That says a lot about the very outspoken French national, a leader in his own right and an enforcer on the court. He is someone whom you’d love to have as a teammate and someone you’d hate to be playing against if he were on the other team.

One could see his well-roundedness as he went around the court coaching from one group to another, exchanging hi-fives and starting conversations with most of the participants. The two-time NBA All-Star even accommodated every single person in the gym who’d approach him for a picture and autograph. That shows how humble and what kind of a person this gentle giant is.

The event was truly a success because the participants were treated to a very well-organized basketball skills camp, but most importantly, the valuable life lessons and learnings shared by the former Florida Gator to the participants will leave a mark and change lives for the better. * * *








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