The NBA pre-season is not considered the most competitive portion of the league’s calendar. Teams primarily use this period as an opportunity to set their systems for the season and extend their popularity by playing “home” games at various venues outside of their usual home bases. It’s a chance for everyone on the court to get settled and, perhaps most crucially, avoid injury. The players are still competitive, because they can’t completely shut off that aspect of their personalities, but it’s clearly a different animal than the games that count.
That relatively lax atmosphere didn’t stop new Washington Wizards wing Paul Pierce and longtime Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah from engaging in a minor shoving match during Monday night’s preseason contest at the United Center. In the first quarter, Pierce made a mildly aggressive foul on his Bulls counterpart, Jimmy Butler. Noah didn’t take too kindly to his physicality, and Pierce responded by getting a little too close to his face. One accidental-ish poke later and the two were at it.
The players were separated and handed out no further punishment, so it’s not as if this incident registers as a serious NBA fight. But it wasn’t the first time that Pierce has gained attention for a perceived hard foul in the preseason. Last fall, Pierce — then set to start his first season with the Brooklyn Nets — fouled LeBron James in a way he claimed was meant to send a message to the rest of the league that the Nets were for real. That message got a bit muddled when the Nets started the regular season by losing 14 of 19 games, but Pierce apparently believes that the preseason can be just as physical as the more meaningful months to come.
It remains to be seen if Pierce’s seriousness will compel the Wizards to start this season strong. Nevertheless, it would not be surprising if this minor skirmish leads to some bad blood with the Bulls and Noah later on.
Source: Yahoo News