A look back on one of the legends of the Bulls franchise: Joakim Noah
We are doing segments here on ChiCitySports.com, remembering players who contributed to their respective teams that may have been overlooked and/or underappreciated during their time in Chicago. I wrote one about Ben Gordon, go check it out. Today, we focus on the heart and soul of the Bulls from 2007-2016, and that is Joakim Noah.
Start of Career
Noah was drafted 9th overall in the 2007 NBA draft by the Bulls. Noah was coming off back-to-back NCAA National Championships with the Florida Gators, bringing that winning pedigree to Chicago.
In Noah’s rookie season, he averaged 6.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, with a steal and a block per game in 74 games, 31 of which he started. The team finished with a 33-49 record, and with a little lottery luck, was able to get the first pick in the draft, where Point Guard Derrick Rose was drafted to be their superstar of the future.
Noah was the perfect yin to Rose’s yang. While it was tough to get any emotion out of Rose, Noah was always getting the crowd involved and doing anything to get under opposing players’ skin. It’s why we loved (and continue to) love him.
2011-2013 Peaks and Valleys
Led by Rose, Noah, and Forward Luol Deng, the Bulls finished with a 62-20 record in the 2010-2011 NBA season and first in the Eastern Conference. Rose won MVP that season and a path to the finals, their first since 1998, was clear. They needed to beat the newly-formed Miami Heat, consisting of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
They lost to Miami in five games, with their Game five loss being the most crushing, as they were up double-digits with almost three minutes left.
As we all know, Derrick Rose just couldn’t stay healthy after that season. The Torn ACL suffered in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers made him miss all of the next season, and then Rose tears his meniscus 10 games into the 2013-14 season which forced him to miss the rest of that season.
All this time Rose was forced to miss is part of the reason why Noah is a legend here in Chicago.
He became the leader of the team and led the Bulls to playoffs in 2012-2013, where they won their first-round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. Noah averaged 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game.
2014 MVP-Type Season
The season Joakim Noah put together in 2013-2014 is one of the most forgotten about seasons a player has put together in NBA history. Noah averaged 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists (all career-highs), 1.2 steals, and 1.5 blocks a game in 80 games. He led the Bulls to a 48-34 record, won Defensive Player of the Year, and finished fourth in MVP voting behind Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Blake Griffin.
The full Joakim Noah experience requires both on and off-the-court highlights, but let’s show off the game 6 classic dunk on Paul Pierce first.
What’s so good about Cleveland?
Hollywood as Hell.
His top 10 plays of 2013-14 show visually just how great he was on both sides of the court.
End of Bulls Career
Noah left after the 2015-16 season, where he signed with the New York Knicks on a 4-year, 72-million-dollar contract. Noah, like Ben Gordon before, couldn’t stay healthy with his new team and bounced around before ending his career with the Clippers in 2020. Noah retired with averages of 8.8 points, 9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game in 13 seasons.
Noah has since returned to the Bulls Organization as a team ambassador.
When you tell the younger generation about Joakim Noah, don’t show them stats, because they don’t jump off the screen. Show them the heart, the determination, and the comfortability that he showed to always be himself. Those led to his successful career.
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