The Bulls got back into the series against the Wizards on Friday with a critical Game 3 victory, one that had more than its fair share of fireworks.
Nene and Jimmy Butler almost got into an actual fight — something we almost never see in the NBA these days due to the prohibitive penalties — and Nene was ultimately ejected for his actions, after grabbing Butler around the head with two hands.
It’s highly likely Nene gets suspended for Game 4, and if that happens, it will leave the door wide open for the Bulls to even up the series. Joakim Noah is hoping for that, obviously, and won’t exactly be shedding any tears if Nene is indeed forced by the league to sit the next one out.
From Mike Wise of the Washington Post:
Going on midnight Friday, Joakim Noah, America’s most ornery, nails-on-a-chalkboard player, rubbed salt on the wound.
“Looks like you’re going to lose Nene for a game,” the Chicago Bulls center said to no one in particular as he shuffled down the hall outside the Verizon Center press room. Almost cackling, he added, “What a bummer. [Stinks] for you guys.”
You can’t blame Noah for this, and honestly, it’s great to see.
Nene went after one of Noah’s smaller teammates in escalating a confrontation that was about to get more real than we’ve become likely to see on an NBA court in quite some time, and although he was provoked by Butler going literally head to head with him and asking him, “What you want,” Nene has a definitive physical advantage.
At a time in the league where so many of these guys have off-the-court relationships, it’s nice to see a little old-school competitiveness creep into the on-court battles. Whether Nene is ultimately suspended or not, Noah will now become even more targeted by the Wizards and their fans for the rest of this series.