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Joakim Noah Is Right: Cleveland Fans Were Wrong

The Chicago Bulls will face notorious trash-talker Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics tonight. But there was some trash-talking going on at last night's Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat game that deserves some attention first.

At this point, you'd have to be suffering under some sort of sports news blackout not to know that forward LeBron James made his triumphant return to "The Cleve" last night and, well, it really was triumphant. The Heat blew out the Cavs 118-90 with the Dark Sith of the NBA scoring 38 with five rebounds and eight assists.

Not surprisingly, and completely understandably, the Cleveland crowd let LeBron have it right out of the gate. Boos rained down, cameras flashed (Photoshop projects in the works, no doubt), funny signs went up, clever shirts were displayed. There was even a LeBron Gear Destructonator outside the stadium. All fair enough. Clevelanders should be upset at the tasteless, insensitive and self-serving way James left their team and their city. But can we talk about this Scottie Pippen chant?

During the course of the game, Cleveland fans began chanting "Scottie! Pippen!" to presumably imply that, in his decision to move to Miami, LeBron had chosen to play second banana to shooting guard Dwyane Wade (who, in today's drama, will play the part of Michael Jordan).

It's kind of a convoluted concept to begin with. I mean, during this summer's ridiculous NBA off-season, there was never any question that James was the prized player that every team was gunning for. I guess, for the sake of this constructed mockery, we can pretend that everyone was in the hunt for Wade, but that doesn't really ring true. LeBron didn't join anyone, they joined him.

But what's really wrong about the chant is that it, by association, mocks Scottie Pippen. Our Scottie Pippen. Six time NBA champion Scottie Pippen. Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen. Team ambassador Scotie Pippen. You're trying to tease LeBron by calling him one of the greatest basketball players of the 1990s, Cleveland? Maybe that's partly why he smoked your team last night.

This story may well have been brushed under the rug -- or stayed in Ohio. But it made the papers (figuratively speaking) here in Chicago because another NBA player who's taken some guff from Cleveland fans, Joakim Noah, commented on it. The Bulls center said:

They could've come up with something better than that. It's bad to be compared to a Hall of Famer with six rings? I thought they'd be a little more creative than that.

Right on, Joakim. Look, Cleveland, we get it. You don't like LeBron James. Got it. No one's blaming you -- and no one outside of South Beach really likes the guy either. But please pick your chants a little more carefully next time. Scottie Pippen doesn't deserve your disrespect, whether you meant it that way or not.

The Bulls will face the Cavaliers in Cleveland this Wednesday, Dec. 8.