It was just a couple of weeks ago that we all agreed Joakim Noah is the best passing big man in the NBA right now. It’s a title that changes just about every season, but as of the 2013-14 season, Noah gets the nod. I mean, of all players 6-foot-10 or taller, he leads the league in assists per game, is tied for first in assists per 36, and is first in assist percentage — when you are first in all relevant categories, it’s a pretty easy choice.
And while that’s all well and good, finding out who Noah is getting his passing skillz from is even more well and good. From the Chicago Tribune:
The text messages from Brad Miller ping frequently on Joakim Noah’s phone.
“He hits me all the time and tells me he’s proud of me. That means everything. That’s my guy,” Noah said recently in a quiet moment. “He watches a lot of the games and, good or bad, he always gives me his opinion. I know he’s proud because all he cares about is backdoor passes. He doesn’t care about defense with his fat butt; that’s for sure.”
So what you’re telling me is that my previous favorite player in the NBA taught my current favorite player in the NBA the thing that makes both of them so valuable? Allow me to swoon while Joakim Noah keeps talking about Brad Miller.
And Noah, whose team-high 241 assists are 43 more than runner-up Kirk Hinrich, is trying to become the first center to lead his team in assists since David Robinson topped the Spurs in 1993-94.
Whether he accomplishes this or not, Noah will give some credit to Miller — with a tweak, of course.
“I’ll never forget that one day at the Berto after practice,” Noah recalled. “Brad said, ‘Come over here. This is what you need to do. You’re not going to be a catch-it-in-the-post guy. I got some things that can really help you. Just listen to what I got. I’m going to teach you some things at the elbow and it’s going to help your career.’ It changed a lot of things for me.
“For me, Brad is always my vet. There’s no lying in that. Even if he said all that with a big dip (of chewing tobacco) in his mouth.”
I almost can’t handle how much I love about all of this — their relationship, the mentorship, Noah working in a chewing tobacco zing — but this syncs up perfectly with what Noah once told me was the biggest thing he learned from B-Rad.
“To throw the backdoor pass, even if it’s not there.”
Hilariously enough, if you watch enough Bulls games this year, you’re bound to see Joakim working in the high post, throwing backdoor passes basically any time their might be a sliver of a chance they’ll work. It’s a total Brad Miller move, and while he’s acknowledged that’s where he learned from in the past, it’s always great to hear these two bros talking about each other. After all, it’s not every day that a hippie citizen of the world and a redneck gangsta from the middle of Indiana become best friends.