Joakim Noah stops “finger guns” celebrations after shootings

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It was meant to be all in fun. But it didn’t feel that way anymore to Joakim Noah.

When Noah would hit a big shot or make a big play, his trademarked celebration was to make guns out of his fingers, pretend to fire them off then holster them at his side.

But in the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and ongoing gun violence in Chicago, Noah has holstered the guns for good. He is no longer doing that celebration (and didn’t when he had a triple-double against the Celtics Tuesday night), he told Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com.

“It wasn’t just what happened in Connecticut. You just have to be kind of compassionate about what’s going on, man. We have issues with guns. Gun violence in this country is out of control and you’ve just got to be sensitive to that. I love this country. This country did so much for me.

“But I think it’s important to be more critical and we have issues. I feel just as American as I do French and the issues are complicated, but you’ve got to be sensitive and a lot of kids are dying. In Chicago, a lot of kids are dying in the streets, so that’s why I’m not doing that anymore.”

There are no simple answers to reducing gun violence in our society, to keeping weapons out of the hands of the mentally unstable as well as criminals while respecting the rights of those following the law. It’s something that requires a sober discussion not screaming talking heads looking for attention.

For that reason, I credit Noah. It’s just a basketball celebration, it doesn’t change what is happening on the streets of Chicago. But it’s a sign from someone that we need to be more serious about these issues.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.