- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2007


Joakim Noah is the chest-thumping, primal-screaming annoyance of the Final Four, unable to complete the most rudimentary play without slipping into a series of self-indulgent histrionics.

Is a 2-footer that puts your team up by 15 points with 4:44 left really that enthralling?

How might Noah respond to a truly riveting moment — by beating on himself so viciously that he would require medical attention?

Noah has the hair to match his out-of-control personality. His future in the NBA is aligned with another mop top, the Wild Thing of the Cavaliers known as Anderson Varejao.

Noah is a high-energy forward who lacks the shooting skill and footwork in the low post to be a dominant piece at this point in his career.

He is a backup voice with a diva’s manner.

Noah asks to be a lightning rod with his over-the-top displays. He also asks: Why do they dislike me so?

He is either naive or oblivious.

Nobody loves a winner awash in arrogance, even if the arrogance is at odds with his scrappiness and contentment as a glorified role player with the Florida Gators.

Worse, his encore is flat.

Noah, so celebrated in the NCAA tournament last spring, has shown no development since then. He is still too slight in build, his shooting mechanics fundamentally flawed and his mouth as excessive as ever.

He releases his free throw attempts from his face, a no-no because of its visual impairment.

His NBA Draft stock has plummeted because of these realities. He is not even the leading low-post player of the Gators. That distinction goes to Al Horford.

Noah put on a demonstrative show against UCLA in the semifinals. The fact that his team was up by a bunch of points and the outcome of the contest not in doubt must have escaped his attention at various points in the ho-hum second half.

Noah beat on his chest with ferocity after making this or that low-level play, which indicated either a disconnect on his part or evidence of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Perhaps he cannot help himself.

The beating of his chest was not in proportion to the lackluster mood of the engagement.

The Bruins were a beaten team, and Noah was beating a dead point.

If not beating a dead point, he was screaming in a facially contorted fashion that was worrisome.

Is he all right?

The Bruins and their supporters might be forgiven if they viewed his wild-eyed outbursts with disdain.

Those on the losing end never like to have their faces rubbed in it, even if that wasn’t Noah’s intent.

Noah often acts as if he never has made a basket or blocked a shot or made a steal in his career.

This is statistically improbable, of course. Otherwise, Noah would not be on the floor as much as he is, and Gators coach Billy Donovan would not be the subject of so many profiles that suggest he is a member of Mensa International.

Noah has been unable to make a connection between his antics and role as college basketball’s No. 1 irritant.

His gloating aided the chorus of doubts after the Gators dropped three of four games late in the regular season. The doubts were partly a wish of the anyone-but-Noah crowd.

Noah took delight in addressing the doubts after the Gators won the SEC tournament, proving he is as attuned to slights as those who find him off-putting.

Noah and the Gators have before them the final business of the Buckeyes tonight.

Noah undoubtedly will be emotionally wired, in full-scream mode, if the Gators claim their second consecutive national championship.

Noah will be the one behaving as if he is in need of a straitjacket and the padded walls of a loony bin.

A lack of perspective goes with the event.

But Noah goes beyond that, to ungraciousness.

He is young. He will mature once he is getting kicked around in the NBA.

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