NBC Sports - Joakim Noah, the heart and soul of the most successful stretch of Bulls basketball since the dynasty, is headed for retirement at age 36, and eventually plans to do so as a Bull, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Monday.
Noah's 13-year NBA career spanned four stops, including nine seasons with the Bulls, who drafted him ninth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. His 572-game run in Chicago featured two All-Star appearances, Defensive Player of the Year honors (2014) and a top-four MVP finish (2014); that 2013-14 campaign, in which he averaged 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals, was his best. The Bulls twice posted the NBA's best regular-season record in that span and made one Eastern Conference finals appearance.
This is my second ALL CAPS welcome home blog the last couple weeks and I'll be honest guys I have absolutely no problem rounding up the band from the mid 2010's one more time.
Maybe I'm joking but maybe Pace & Nagy are going to announce a one-year deal with Jay Cutler at tomorrow's press conference. If Penn National were handicapping unlikely offseason outcomes, you'd think a futures bet on Tony La Russa's hiring would've been competitive with #6 coming home to Halas Hall. So don't tell me it's impossible.
I heard Patrick Sharp was skating at Johnny's Ice House
Nostalgia aside there's really nothing I can say about Joakim Noah's career that you guys need to hear from me but that won't impede my efforts. He's on the Mt. Rushmore of most respected post-MJ Chicago athletes and for good reason. Even at Derrick Rose's peak, Jo was still the heart & soul of the team which is absolutely preposterous to think about. Especially with how much the culture of the NBA caters to the superstar aesthetic and we're over here in Chicago with 300-level mustard stains going nuts for a 2nd quarter Joakim Noah loose ball offensive rebound.
Maybe I'm being dramatic but there's a big risk that my brain starts to fall apart with What If statements. I promise not to be a wet blanket but heavens to fuckin Betsy let's not shortchange what the 2010's Bulls could of been. It's incredibly easy to paint that picture with Derrick Rose montages.
But what gets talked about far less is how Joakim Noah kept the Bulls together when Rose was down and out FOR YEARS. Back to back seasons of 36+ minutes a night, most of which with excruciating pain. Picking up a DPOY while playing point-center? Wtf is a point center anyways?
That was a wild time to be a Bulls fan. We were actively living through one of the great sports tragedies of our generation, constantly distracted by outlandish efforts from an extremely beloved cast of characters. The kind of teams that held no chance of representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals but would still beat The Heat in December and we'd all go nuts. A time when the Bulls moneylined with the under was always smart money.
I certainly don't miss those days because they were agonizing. But you try to hold on to the players and moments that stick out, and Joakim Noah is at the top of the list. In a perfect world we'd be bringing him back for 10-12 productive minutes a night en route to an NBA Finals run but there's far too many loose ends for that story today. Maybe in an alternate universe.
For now let's just agree we're lucky we get to say goodbye. Fingers crossed it's at a date/time when our bumblefuck leadership will let some of us be in the building to at least enjoy the ceremonies. Jo deserves nothing less.