By Ben Golliver
Last week's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., prompted thoughts, prayers and tributes from the NBA's biggest stars. It's also leading one NBA star to retire an often-used celebration that involved shooting his fingers like guns.
Bulls center Joakim Noah will no longer perform his "six-shooters" or "guns of glory" celebration to celebrate jump shots or big plays out of respect to the Newtown victims, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I started doing it in practice [a few years ago], did the guns and kept doing it,’’ Noah explained after the Tuesday 100-89 win over Boston. “It was a funny, comical thing, but we’re in a situation right now where it’s not funny. You can’t joke around with things like that. Too many people are dying because of guns. We have a problem here with guns, so I’m trying to be a little compassionate. It’s not a joking matter. We have a serious problem with it in Chicago. It’s crazy. I mean this summer, the movie theater, it’s happening all the time. This is unheard of. Every story is horrific. The gun thing in this country is no joke.’’
CNN.com reports that Adam Lanza killed his mother and then 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook before taking his own life last Friday.
Noah reacted immediately to the shootings on his Twitter account, writing that there "needs to be some kind of gun control."
NBA.com reports that Noah is not a gun owner and that he has performed the celebration, which can be viewed above, since 2010.
Like most people across America, Noah was horrified by the elementary school shootings that left 20 children and six adults dead Friday. But the 6-foot-11 center had participated in September in a “Peace Tournament” on Chicago’s South Side, a community effort that brought together warring gang members for a day of basketball.
RedEyeChicago.com reports that there have been nearly 500 homicides in 2012 in Chicago, significantly up over the 435 murders in the city in 2011.
Noah is not the only NBA player to incorporate guns into his celebrations in recent years. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has plunged imaginary guns into holsters after hitting a three-pointer and former Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas danced with "finger guns" after bringing real weapons into the Verizon Center locker room.
The list of shot celebrations is a mile long: championship belts (Steve Novak), airplane wings (Jason Terry), salutes (Kevin Durant and others), spanking yourself (LeBron James, albeit just once), three goggles (the old Blazers), etc. Some fans generally love them, other fans and many media members generally hate them, but the general rule is that creativity and personality, at least to a reasonable point, help make the NBA an entertaining product.
The worst thing that should ever be said about a celebration is that it's lame or lacking in humor. Kudos to Noah for having a heart and realizing that the six-shooter routine is no longer appropriate , and even bigger kudos to him for realizing that gun crime is an issue worth investing his time and energy. A player who has been known as a leader and a worker since he starred in college could make a meaningful impact in the Chicago community if he commits to a cause that has clearly touched him.
Video via YouTube user goktugerce