Joakim Noah has decided to change his in-game celebration routine out of respect for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
As seen above, the Bulls' forward previously pantomimed shooting guns after many made baskets. After Friday's tragic events, however, Noah noticeably dropped the gesture during games on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, Yahoo! Sports notes.
Following Tuesday's 100-89 victory over the Celtics, Noah spoke to NBA.com's Steve Aschburner on his decision to drop the gun routine.
"You can’t joke around with things like that," Noah said. "Too many people are dying because of guns. We have a problem here with guns. So just trying to be a little bit compassionate about what’s going on."
According to Noah, the gesture originated in practice during the 2010-11 season and just stuck with him -- until now.
"I hit a jump shot in Keith Bogans' face and I started doing the guns and kept doing it," he said. "It was kind of like a funny, comical thing. But I guess we’re in a situation right now where it’s not funny."
Noah was one of many athletes who reacted emotionally to the shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children, and took to Twitter to call for action in response to the incident.
Though Noah is mostly being commended for decided to cease the routine, many have taken issue with the impetus to mimic shooting guns in the first place, pointing to the Bulls' home city of Chicago and its notorious problems with gun violence.
To that end, Noah seems to understand just how far the gun issue reaches in this country. The New York native who grew up in Paris and holds dual citizenship between the United States and France explained that his decision to halt the shooting pantomime goes far beyond the tragedy in Newtown and is emblematic of the overarching problem of gun culture in America.
"It wasn’t just what happened in Connecticut. ... We have issues with guns. Gun violence in this country is out of control and you’ve just got to be sensitive to that," Noah told NBC Chicago. "I love this country. This country did so much for me. But I think it’s important to be more critical and we have issues. I feel just as American as I do French and the issues are complicated, but you’ve got to be sensitive and a lot of kids are dying. In Chicago, a lot of kids are dying in the streets, so that’s why I’m not doing that anymore."
Noah is not the only member of the sports community rethinking his connection with guns. This past Sunday, the Patriots' End Zone Militia ditched their muskets in reverence to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, while just last week, at least seven NFL players turned in their guns following Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide.