Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah trained with big wave surfer in off-season

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The trendy off-season workout for NBA players is MMA — it’s a hard workout, it teaches balance and core strength, plus it’s just cool.

That’s not what Joakim Noah did last summer.

He was in Southern California working out with famed big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton. And no, working out with him doesn’t mean jumping on some 50-foot wave (which I’m pretty sure violates Noah’s contract in like 12 places). Rather he was doing pool workouts that sound pretty extreme. From the Daily Herald (hat tip to SLAM).

“I would say I learned just as much about recovery from him as anybody,” Noah said after playing 44 minutes and the entire second half against the Knicks. “The way he trains for what he does is unbelievable. I consider him like a mentor….

“He surfs 60-, 70-foot giants,” Noah said. “You fall, you could die. Talk about mental toughness. When you have a 60-foot monster, you can be under (water) for two or three minutes, so you have to train for that.

“He’ll use weights and do like jumps underwater. He can do like 10 jumps. I can do like three. It’s unbelievable, just for your lung capacity and stuff like that. It really helped me doing these pool workouts.”

Noah is having a career year — 13.7 points and 10.8 rebounds a game, he’s the defensive anchor still and taking on more of the Bulls offense with Derrick Rose out. He has a PER of 18.5. The Bulls are atop the Central Division without their MVP and Noah’s play at both ends is a key reason.

So apparently this works.

Is it really hard to picture Noah hanging out on the beach, talking workouts with surfers? Then finding a way to make it work for him.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.