Byline: Mike McGraw
Joakim Noah took no joy in outplaying Milwaukee's Yi Jianlian in Tuesday's preseason debut for both NBA rookies.
The Bulls' 6-foot-11 center had a respectable showing in LaCrosse, Wis., producing 6 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 22 minutes. Yi had a rough night with 3 points, 0 rebounds and 6 fouls in 15 minutes.
Noah takes no motivation from the fact that he was the ninth pick in last June's draft, while Yi went at No. 6. That was the best-case scenario in Noah's mind.
"I'm not going to lie; I'm really happy with the way the draft turned out because this is where I wanted to be," Noah said following Wednesday's practice at the Berto Center. "I'd rather be here than Milwaukee any day. Yi's a good guy. I just wanted to win the basketball game."
Noah might actually know Yi as well as anyone in America. For about a month last spring, Yi, Noah and Florida swingman Corey Brewer were workout partners under the tutelage of personal trainer Joe Abunassar in Carson, Calif.
Of course, Yi had just arrived from his native China and is still working on his English. So it's not like he and Noah text each other daily or anything. Noah never spent any time with Yi away from the gym.
"There were a lot of people around him all the time," Noah said. "I think it was tough for him because he was getting so much media attention. It was really crazy for him.
"You could tell he's a quiet guy. Really cool, funny, always joking around and stuff. Very quiet, but …