It seems like a lifetime ago that Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose went down with another season-ending injury and fans and analysts began to count the Bulls out for the season. Some even wanted the team to tank in order to gain valuable draft picks, but Bulls center Joakim Noah shut them up.
Noah said in a Jan. 16 ESPN Chicago article that those who wanted the team to tank are not real fans. Then he backed up his win-at-all-costs mentality by racking up a couple of triple-doubles en route to a Bulls tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with the Toronto Raptors, as of press time. With Rose out of the picture, Noah has adopted the team as his own.
With Luol Deng traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Rose sidelined, Noah became the leader by default. He was already an influential player on the team, but Noah has become a major reason his teammates have not given up on the season either.
Noah is undoubtedly deserving of his 2014 All-Star selection and the clout he has gained within the league, especially because this season he has more triple-doubles than LeBron James and Kevin Durant combined.
Noah is averaging a double-double this season—12 points and 11 rebounds per game, to be exact. During a time when his team was supposed to struggle, he has proven the doubters wrong. Despite all the skepticism, he and his teammates have not backed down from the challenge of playing without Rose.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point at the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat and say the Bulls still don’t have a shot at a title, but only a nincompoop would expect Chicago to go down without
While Noah and the Bulls’ success this season may not translate into an NBA title in June, it sure makes the organization a more plausible destination for high-profile free agents.
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony could become a free agent this summer. During the All-Star weekend, Noah and Anthony may have discussed the possibility of the small forward joining Chicago, ESPN reporter Chris Broussard tweeted March 5. If the conversation happened and Noah is trying to recruit a star to play for Chicago, he is demonstrating leadership off the court, too.
The Chicago Bulls center came into the league wearing a goofy outfit, and flashing his charismatic smile with two NCAA National Championships under his belt. Noah had our attention, but not our faith.
His willingness to improve and motivation to win every game quickly became an endearing trait.
If he could improve his low-post game and jump shot, it would be hard to argue there is a better center in the league.
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