Greska: Suck it Steve Novak? Say it ain’t so

Andrei Greska

Easter Sunday’s marquee NBA matchup pitted the Bulls against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden with no shortage of storylines. From Derrick Rose’s return to action to a potential first round playoff preview to a chance to help the lowly Bucks get into the dance, I didn’t need much prodding to watch.

As a die-hard Bulls fan and hater of all things overrated — get at me Nueva Yorkers — I was rooting hard for my men in red.

Yet late in the game, one particular play shook my Bulls fandom and scarred me from a fan’s point of view.

Joakim Noah was playing tight defense on Steve Novak, forcing him into a turnover as Novak fell out of bounds. Noah goes to grab the ball out of a flustered Novak’s arms, drawing a brief joust for possession and an exchanging of words.

It was the absolute worst scenario for a Bulls-loving Marquette fan.

In the red corner you have Noah, the goofiest player in the NBA and one of my favorite Bulls. He’s like the class clown in grade school throwing spitballs at the blackboard and loving the fact that he got caught.

Noah is the kind of player you hate if he’s playing on any team but your own. He speaks his mind, his hair is floppy, he pulls out the gun show for big plays and just generally does everything possible to get under your skin.

But as he wears Chicago on the front of his jersey, I love him. How can you not? He’s not afraid to say Cleveland is a dump and Kevin Garnett is a meanie. Noah also possesses one of my favorite post-MJ Bulls memories: taking a steal coast-to-coast in the third overtime of Game 6 against the Celtics in the 2009 playoffs, sealing the deal with a posterization of Paul Pierce.

In the blue corner you have Novak, one of my favorite non-Bulls players in the Association. I don’t think I need to explain myself for this one seeing as you are reading this in the MARQUETTE Tribune. Heck, I already devoted a full column to him earlier in the year.

He’s as likeable a player as there is in the NBA, even if you aren’t a Warrior, constantly playing the game with a smile on his face and pulling out the Discount Double Check after big buckets.

I want Marquette to succeed — in all aspects of the word – so having a likeable NBA sharp-shooter like Novak represent the school is about as good as it gets for me.

So here I am Sunday watching two of the players I like most shooting visual and verbal daggers at each other, completely befuddled as to how I’m supposed to react.

My head said side with Noah. Call Novak a crybaby for trying the whole take-the-ball-and-go-home routine when things don’t go your way. My heart said side with Novak. Call Noah an ugly jerk for trying to provoke Novak by needlessly meddling into something that wasn’t his business and acting like a fool.

Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

Lucky for me I was working on a monster of a story for our closer look desk — which you should go check out on page 10 right now — with a coach who has experienced a similar type of dissonance.

Marquette volleyball coach Bond Shymansky graduated from Iowa — twice — yet took his first college volleyball coaching job as an assistant at arch rival Iowa State. Ouch.

“I grew up as a Hawkeye, but when I got to Iowa State I got to know the coaches and the players competing out there,” Shymansky said. “You realize you are cheering for the people. The level of investment you have in the people is so much deeper than the colors when you went to the school.”

What exactly does that mean for me? Suck it Novak — at least for now. I may hang your Marquette jersey in the front of my closet, but I have a much deeper connection with Noah and have more invested in his team’s success than Novak’s.

Just remember Chi-town fans: come playoff time, your Marquette ties with Steve, Zar and Dwyane get thrown out the window. For one month, and only one month, red is greater than blue and gold.