Kevin Garnett is my personal favorite power forward of all time. What drew me in was his ultra unrelenting competitiveness accompanied by an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win. He was brash, fierce and just flat-out mean on the court. That last part was especially true if you happened to be a young guy standing opposite him. KG was known to be harsh on rookies, but Joakim Noah in particular learned that the hard way.
Noah idolized KG growing up. That admiration evaporated pretty quickly once they actually met. KG welcomed Noah into the league in the typical KG fashion. Imagine working your way up your entire life and finally getting to the top of your field and having a chance to meet your childhood idol, just for them to belittle and disrespect you. That’s what happened to Noah, which must have been heartbreaking.
Here’s Noah recalling the incident afterwards:
“I just wanted to say something to my idol, and he just looked over like, ‘Yo, who the f*** you talking to? Who the f*** do you think you’re talking to?’ When he said that I was like oh s***, I shouldn’t have said that. And then I kind of fell back, knowing I shouldn’t have said that, and then when I didn’t say anything, I guess he thought I was a p*ssy because he kept getting louder and from that moment on, I swear I was going at him. Every single time we play, we’re going at it.”
Man, that is harsh. Since that moment, a full childhood’s worth of worship turned into a heated, competitive rivalry that lasted throughout their careers.
You can watch this episode of Beef History to find out more of the petty (but funny) details that litter the years Garnett and Noah battled each other. Also, there’s an important lesson here — if you ever have the chance to meet your idol, maybe you should draw from Noah’s experience and think twice about it.