June 12, 2007
WALTHAM - He is who he is.
``I speak my mind,'' Joakim Noah said after working out for the Celtics yesterday. ``Sometimes that's good, sometimes not, and sometimes people think I have a big mouth.''
Far be it for Noah to break from form yesterday.
After watching the ebullient and sometimes brash Florida forward go through a workout against Courtney Sims - the Roslindale native and Michigan forward brought in to provide Noah with a foil - Doc Rivers didn't have to worry about drawing this potential Celtic out of a shell.
Others under consideration for the fifth pick in the June 28 draft might have better skill sets or more strength, but it's doubtful anyone else in the 2007 field will be able to communicate this well, if that's the word for it.
``I really enjoyed how he could communicate,'' the Celtics coach said. ``It was probably the loudest workout we've had in some time. He naturally talks and points things out defensively, and those are good traits.''
Perhaps the most obvious, however, is that Noah's motor is not confined to his mouth. He might have an odd release on his shot and a somewhat ill-defined game offensively, but it's unlikely there will be another player with more natural electricity.
``He's an energy player,'' Rivers said. ``He plays to the point of exhaustion every game. Energy - and playing with energy - is a talent. It's difficult to teach.''
Noah might not even be as athletic as Brandan Wright - the North Carolina freshman who worked out separately yesterday without a head-to-head partner.
But summed up simply by Rivers, the most notable of Noah's intangible gifts might have been his basketball IQ. As evidenced by Florida's run to two straight NCAA titles, the level of hoops intellect in Gainesville has been fairly steep the past two years.
``We all had good basketball IQs before we ever played with each other,'' Noah said of a group that included Corey Brewer, who impressed in a two-day workout with the Celtics last week; Al Horford, who is expected to pay a visit soon; and Taurean Green, a prospect slotted for late in the first round. ``But we're also very lucky because our own games were really good together.
``Al's a low-post player and I'm a high-post player, so that helped us to play together really well. Our experience at Florida together was really exciting. We're all following our dreams right now. I might have had the best college experience ever.''
``I had a blast,'' Noah said. ``You want to talk off the record, I'll tell you stories. I just feel that I had a great time. It's something I'll never forget. It's made me even hungrier.''
That great time will no doubt continue, regardless of what lottery team makes a move for Noah and his unorthodox game.
``You guys are the ones who say where I'm projected,'' Noah said of his final destination on June 28. ``But there's no lie once you step between those lines. I learned that it's all hype. At the end of the day, it's all talk.''
A subject, no doubt, that Noah knows something about.
``I'm just being me,'' he said. ``A lot of people will have their opinion, but at the end of the day, I'm just being me.''
Anything else would be inconceivable.