The days when the NBA was sprinkled with gritty players who often made up for skill-set weaknesses with pure heart and effort are long gone, and I have to admit — I miss those days.
However, I will say that if there is anybody in the entire NBA that reminds me of those players in that particular era, it would absolutely have to be Chicago Bulls‘ power forward Joakim Noah. Noah is the type of player that you could see fitting right in the with “Bad Boy” era Detroit Pistons. Don’t get me wrong, Noah is by no means a dirty player, but he is as hard-nosed as they come.
If diving on the floor for loose balls, banging down-low with guys much heavier, or just toughness in general was a statistic, Noah would already have Hall-of-Fame numbers. That’s not to say his actual numbers aren’t impressive because they are — 12.4 ppg, 11.5 rpg and 5.1 apg from the center position is nothing to sneeze at.
The type of all-around numbers he has put up of late are very similar to what the point guard the Bulls were up against on Sunday has become famous for — that point guard being none other than Boston Celtics All-Star Rajon Rondo — which is especially impressive considering Noah is a power forward/center.
Noah has been on a tear of late with averages of 14.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 7.4 apg and 2.2 bpg over his last 10 games. The Bulls entered Sunday’s action trailing the Toronto Raptors by one game for the third seed in the Eastern Conference and because the Raptors won on Sunday, there was more emphasis placed on the Bulls getting a win against the struggling Celtics. The Bulls would win the game 107-102, thanks in part to another huge game from Noah.
Noah scored 13 points with eight rebounds and eight assist against the Celtics, another great all around performance. His outstanding play has caused some renewed hope to hover over a season that seemed destine for the lottery not long ago.
While injured point guard Derrick Rose is a former MVP and is widely considered the face of the franchise, if Noah continues to play at this level and continues to exhibit this level of leadership, Rose just might return to a town with a new sheriff in charge — and his name is Joakim Noah.