Former Chicago Bulls center and Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah built a reputation as one of the best defensive minds in the league during his prime. However, Noah recently admitted that he had nightmares about a certain Los Angeles Clippers star during his rookie year.
When asked about his “Welcome to the NBA moment” in the Knuckleheads podcast with Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson, the former Bulls center had this to say abou (via the Knuckleheads, clip from u/whenmachinescry on Reddit):
“It was a guy I haven’t even heard of, it was the Clippers… I had to guard Chris Kaman. I don’t even know who Chris Kaman is, this gon’ be easy… Left, right, on the block, it was crazy, he was talking shit too. I ain’t even heard of this guy and he’s getting buckets. I was like, ‘Tomorrow, Yao Ming, the night after that, Shaq.’ I’m like this shit doesn’t stop.”
As user jaylson pointed out in the Reddit comments, Kaman would go for 16 and 11 that night on 80% shooting. Newer fans might roast the shit out of the former Clippers All-Star now, but the dude was a one-time All-Star for a reason. When he was able to put all the pieces together, he was “nice with it”, as Noah said in that clip. He was a 7’0 beast who had a soft touch and a scary mid-range game, and during his time with the Clippers, Kaman was that guy for the team.
For Noah, that night, along with the back-to-back against Yao and Shaq, definitely put things into perspective as to how difficult things were in the NBA. He definitely adjusted though, and he carved his way into the league with his tenacious defense, earning himself a Defensive Player of the Year award.