He can be a antagonist. He is a thorn to other teams’ sides and the cause of many headaches. He is hated by opponents and fans of other teams because he speaks his mind and is fueled by the hate. But the team he plays for loves the way he is. He represents the Chicago Bulls, and his name is Joakim Noah. He has been the heart and soul for the Bulls for years, and now he can add another title: unquestioned leader.
Once Derrick Rose was injured earlier this season and the glue guy Luol Deng was traded, someone had to take the reins of leader. We all know coach Tom Thibodeau is the mastermind of the Bulls’ offensive and defensive attacks, but he needed a guy to become the voice of reason on the floor. Noah’s competitive spirit, defensive intensity, improving offense and outspoken nature is just what this team needed. His constant energy is contagious, and it has given the Bulls a jolt of confidence.
The Bulls have been on a major tear in 2014, and it has all started with Noah’s play. The Bulls were a very inconsistent and dejected bunch since Rose’s 2nd major knee injury. Since the New Year started, Noah is averaging 14.9 points, 14.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals. The Bulls have won eight of their last 10 games, climbed back into the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference and Noah is the key to all this recent success.
Coach Thibs is pushing for Noah to make the All-Star team for the second time. With the way he has been playing lately, that should be no problem at all. Noah gives his all every time he steps on the court. His rebounding and defense is off the charts, and he is playing as well as any big man in the game. He sets the tone for the Bulls and does everything a leader is asked to do.