1 » Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah has been a thorn in the side of LeBron James since the day Noah was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Mostly nudging James in a joke-serious fashion, Noah has never shied away from challenging the league’s best player (or James’s former team, the Miami Heat) with humorous yet pointed remarks. “I’m happy for LeBron James,” said Noah while hosting a charity event in Chicago, Illinois, on Friday. “He gets to go home. People are happy over there. But I really hope that we can kick his ass as many times as possible.” The 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Noah will have his best chance to compete for a league title in 2014 with a healthy Derrick Rose and new contributing piece in Pau Gasol.
The charity event Noah hosted on Friday was to debut a new public service announcement for his Noah’s Arc Foundation, one made in an effort to help stop gun violence and promote peace in the Windy City. “All this violence that’s going on in Chicago, I feel like it’s all our problems. It’s not just a South Side problem. It’s not just a West Side problem. This is a city problem,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We all have to come together. I don’t know what the answers are. I really don’t. I’m just trying my best.”
2 » Former Gators running back Chris Rainey has not done much of anything in the NFL, and a big reason for that was an offseason arrest that cost him much of the 2013 season. When the Indianapolis Colts eventually picked him up late in the campaign, Rainey spent less than three weeks on the roster before he broke his leg and was placed on injured reserve. In three games with the Colts, Rainey was purely used as a returner, bringing back six kickoffs for 131 yards and four punts for 29 yards. He is back with the team for 2014 and looks to have a role in the offense now that teammate Vick Ballard is expected to be out for the year with a torn Achilles. “I can do anything and everything. Wherever they put me, I’m ready for it,” he said in a post-training camp media availability. “I’m one of them play-making guys that make you miss. It just makes you smile because you know what you can do in the middle of the field. So, just be ready for it when your time comes.”
As it turns out, Rainey’s pick up by Indianapolis last year was not by happenstance. Head coach Chuck Pagano revealed over the weekend that he recruited Rainey while at North Carolina on the advice of Rod Smart, Rainey’s older brother and a former player under Pagano in Oakland. (Hat tip: Pro Football Talk)
“When we got Chris a year ago, he had been on a couch for 11 months. I don’t know what he was doing work-wise, but he was living on a sofa with his brother, ‘He Hate Me.’ We had ‘He Hate Me’ in Oakland. Great dude. Love him. When I was at Oakland and I left Oakland to go back to college in 2007, his brother, ‘He Hate Me,’ he said, ‘Coach, good luck. I know you’re leaving, but you might want to take a look at this cat,’ and he handed me a DVD. It was of Chris Rainey and he was a senior at Lakeland High School. I’m going back to college, so I go home, packed up the house and it’s me and Tori, my youngest daughter, and we popped it in and watched four plays. She told me, ‘Go get that guy, that guy can play.’ It looked like everyone else was standing still on the tape and that’s what he looks like now. You can see the athleticism, the burst, the speed. He puts a foot in the ground and gets north and south.”