Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah lashed out at Boston's Kevin Garnett a month ago, referring to him in a radio interview as "mean" and "ugly." It wasn't the first time the two fiery big men had clashed publicly, and it likely won't be the last.
The KG-Noah rivalry has been an ongoing saga for years, and it'll have another chapter written Friday night, when the Bulls visit the TD Garden to take on the Celtics for the second time this season.
We'll probably never fully understand the underlying causes for the beef between the two star players. But here's one theory — they're just too darn similar.
Both of their coaches agreed.
"They're both high, high energy guys," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who coached Garnett for three years as an assistant in Boston. "They're multiple-effort guys. They bring a lot of juice to the team. Their pursuit of rebounds — and watching Kevin this year, I think Kevin's healthy again. He's rebounding above the rim, he's getting balls outside his area, he's chasing them down. And I think Jo is similar to that — anything near him. He's been phenomenal on the boards."
But they're not just similar in the way they play. They can both walk the walk — and talk the talk.
"I think Kevin's been doing it at a high level for a long time in this league, and the way he gets himself going is with his energy, his talking, and all that stuff," Thibodeau said. "That's who he is. He's talking to everybody — his teammates, the opponent, whoever's around him. That's Kevin."
"They're both very verbal," agreed Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a Florida native who watched Noah closely from his time as a Florida Gator. "But Kevin is more to himself off the floor, and I don't think Joakim is that way. But they both play hard at the end of the day, and they both play for the right reasons. I think every coach in the NBA would love them both. Every ounce of them is about winning."