This week, the NBA announced the selections for the All-NBA First Team. Included on the first team are Kevin Durant, LeBron James, James Harden, Chris Paul, and at center, Chicago’s own Joakim Noah.
Noah can add the All-NBA First Team selection to his list of accolades for the 2013-2014 season which include his selection to the NBA All-Defensive First Team and his Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Whenever I think of Noah, I picture him with a towel tied around his neck, dancing around midcourt during The Florida Gators’ 2007 run to the NCAA National Championship. I still watch that clip of Noah dancing about six times a year. His lighthearted attitude immediately drew me to him but it was his hard work and consistency on the court that made me a true fan.
Despite being the starting center on a back to back NCAA National Championship team, many scouts doubted if Noah’s thin frame and wacky antics would translate well into the NBA. The Chicago Bulls seemed to be able to see past Noah’s thin frame and antics and recognized him for what he really is; a winner.
After the Bulls selected Noah with the ninth pick in the 2007 NBA draft, he began his transformation into the player he is today. Noah spent time honing his skills and logged countless hours in the weight room bulking up. Comparing Noah’s build in college to what it is today is shocking, especially when you look at pictures side by side. His work in the weight room has given him the ability to stand up to pretty much any player in the NBA.
Every time I’ve seen the Bulls play, Noah was the first person on the floor and the last one to leave during pregame shoot around. I watched him make 18 consecutive free throws before he finally went back into the locker room for his final game preparations. That’s just the kind of player Noah is, hardworking, reliable, and detail oriented. Although Noah was drafted several years before Tom Thibodeau’s tenure began as the head coach of the Bulls, Noah ended up being a perfect fit in Thibodeau’s system.
Back in March, the fans at the United Center began giving Noah the MVP chant when he was at the line shooting free throws. In true Noah style, he said that he didn’t care much for the chants because Chicago’s real MVP was not playing. Of course he was referring to Derrick Rose. Since Rose has been out of commission for the vast majority of two seasons, Chicago fans have had to recognize someone as the most valuable player on the Bulls. And without a doubt, Joakim Noah fits that description.
The 2013-2014 season was arguably the best season of Noah’s NBA career. Noah finished fourth in MVP voting and wrapped up the year averaging 12.8 rebounds, 10 points, and 4.6 assists per game (which was most among all centers). With the hopeful return of Rose for the 2014-2015 season and possible free agent signings on the horizon, fans of the Bulls hope that Noah’s statistical success will lead to the one things that Noah really desires; an NBA Championship.