Full disclosure: I hate the Chicago Bulls. My hatred for them traces back to the year 1990. Yes people….. this includes “The Jordan Years”.
Ok now that’s out the way, it’s time to show Bulls center Joakim Noah some respect.
And no I don’t mean the respect in the vein of noticing that he’s your quintessential “grunt guy” or “hard worker” or my favorite cliche describing guys similar to Noah, “the heart of the team”.
He IS in fact the Chicago Bulls best player and furthermore can we really be honest with ourselves for a minute here and admit that Noah has been Chicago’s best player for the last few seasons. Obviously it helps tremendously when your franchise player Derrick Rose’s has struggled to stay healthy but it shouldn’t change the narrative and quite frankly, the obvious. If anything Joakim Noah opportunity to truly develop into a two-way threat has been the one major positive to take away from the absence of Rose over the course of the last 2 seasons.
His statline in a 95-88 victory over the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon showed just that. 20 pts, 12 rebs, 7 ast and most importantly, disrupting the back to back NBA champions on both sides of the floor.
I haven’t arrived at a point yet in definitively anointing Joakim Noah as the best center in the league. But I will tell you this, he is officially in the conversation. With the recent downswing in production of Dwight Howard the last few years (although he has returned close to old form this season in Houston), injuries this season that’s hampered Marc Gasol, and of course a Roy Hibbert who many feels his success primarily come from the benefit of playing with an extremely deep and talented roster, it doesn’t sound so far fetched that Joakim Noah may in fact be the best center in the league.
Now many people will read this and think that I am nuts in the head (which I kind of am already ) for proclaiming this or at the very least giving credence to this movement but lets acknowledge a few things here. The league has vastly changed over the last 10 years. Centers as we know it aren’t valued the same way they once were when I grew up. Hell in my estimation the last true elite center we had in the NBA was Shaquille O’Neal and 1 can truly argue his real last “great” year was in 2006.
Folks that’s almost a decade ago.
Noah has always been a go getter, a hard worker, yes, all those aforementioned cliches I’ve already spoken about especially on the defensive end. But with the extended absence of Derrick Rose in 2012 and 2013, there seems to have been a responsibility placed on Noah to contribute more offensively and he has delivered in now adding to his once limited offensive skill set in a major way and he’s also an underrated passer both from the block or on the wing.
If we continue to view elite players as guys who can get the job on both ends of the floor, considering that Noah is pretty much at the very least pretty good on both sides, why do people continue to view it as foolish to consider him the best in his position.
It truly boggles my mind that people have this notion that because something looks different, it’s immediately dismissed. I’ll admit….Noah’s game isn’t the most orthodox for a guy playing in his position But the reality is that this is also a unorthodox NBA where a Miami Heat team who’s ranked dead last in rebounding the last 2 seasons are also current holders of back to back NBA titles.
All I’m asking is for basketball fans, whether your allegiance is with the Chicago Bulls or not to at least respect and appreciate a guy like Joakim Noah who is in my opinion very good for this league.
Mind you this is the guy who went to the college I despise mainly due to my personal college football/basketball allegiance (Florida State) and now plays on a team whom I have truly despised for 24 years of my life.
As much as it pains me to admit this,yes…yes….a hundred times yes…I am a fan and an appreciator of one Joakim Noah.