The Bulls are honoring Joakim Noah on Thursday night when they host the Knicks at the United Center. It will only add more energy to what should be a fun matchup between these two rivals, even if Zach LaVine isn’t able to suit up because of his thumb injury.
It’s certainly fitting that the Bulls are honoring Noah against a Knicks team featuring Tom Thibodeau as head coach and former Bulls teammates Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson on the roster. Noah also infamously played for the Knicks, securing a four-year, $72 million bag after leaving the Bulls but only making it through two of those seasons. He then spent time with the Grizzlies and Clippers before retiring last year. The big man attended one Bulls game, but it was before fans were back in the stands.
Noah is going to get a roaring reception on Thursday, and for good reason. While he started out as a polarizing draft pick, he soon played and talked his way into Chicago’s heart and became a beloved Bull with the Tornado jumper:
Thibs summed things up well here:
"I loved him. I fought with him. I loved him. I fought with him. And he's a dear friend now"— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) October 27, 2021
Tom Thibodeau reflects on his time coaching Joakim Noah (the Knicks will be in Chicago on Thursday when the Bulls will host Joakim Noah night) pic.twitter.com/JPTaQcFxzq
K.C. Johnson has a great series of interviews over at NBC Sports Chicago about Noah with Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Brad Miller, Billy Donovan, John Paxson and Ron Adams. ESPN’s Zach Lowe and The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg also have great Noah features as well, and Lowe did a podcast with him.
And get a load of these pics from the pre-party last night. Everybody came out to celebrate:
Spotted in Chicago right now ❤️ pic.twitter.com/4ETj4LRCEm— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 28, 2021
Kurt Thomas & Taj Gibson out here! pic.twitter.com/9AG6Bifsq0— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 28, 2021
Last one: Toni Kukoc & Keith Bogans! pic.twitter.com/FT1h48MBKh— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 28, 2021
Now, let’s take a look at some of Noah’s best moments with the Bulls.
2007 NBA Draft
While Noah won back-to-back national titles at Florida, his draft stock dropped a bit after the second one. The Bulls taking him at No. 9 in 2007 was met with some skepticism, but who can forget that draft night suit and that picture with David Stern:
The Dunk over Paul Pierce
This needs no introduction:
Triple-double ... with blocks
Noah racked up seven triple-doubles in his Bulls career, with one of those coming by way of points, rebounds and blocks. On Feb. 28, 2013, he went for 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks agains the Sixers:
Game 7 vs. Nets
Despite dealing with a nasty case of plantar fasciitis, Noah put a beleaguered Bulls team on his back in Game 7 of the first-round series against the Nets in 2013. The hobbled big man dominated to the tune of 24 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and two assists to beat a Nets team that had no business losing that series:
The 2013-14 season
This was honestly the last season I really enjoyed watching the Bulls. After Rose got hurt again and then Deng was dumped, Noah and Thibs refused to let the Bulls tank and somehow won 48 games. Point Noah was fully embraced, and he anchored an elite defense for a team that played its ass off every single night.
Noah wound up winning Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-NBA First Team. He even finished fourth in MVP voting.
Noah left it all out on the court that regular season, and he and the Bulls were clearly out of gas by the time the playoffs rolled around. He labored through an ugly first-round series loss to the Wizards, but that shouldn’t take away from what he accomplished getting the Bulls there in the first place.
That season also brought this amazing Noah quote, via the Chicago Tribune:
“When I look at the top of the arena, and I see the guy who looks this big and he’s up cheering up and down, that’s the guy I play for… To me, that’s what this city represents. There’s a lot of hardship in here, a lot of adversity in this city, and I feel like when I play basketball, I want people to be proud of their team.”
We also got this gem:
I shot a 3 in practice today.... Thibs started hatin though— Joakim Noah (@JoakimNoah) March 26, 2014
Got to love it.
Trolling LeBron James’ teams
Yes, LeBron always got the best of the Bulls in the playoffs, but Noah did his best to get in his jabs and trolling.
You have the Cleveland rant:
And the “Hollywood as hell” line:
And the clapping video:
And his longtime beef with LeBron:
And while this one isn’t exactly trolling, he was there to catch Rose after his game-winner against the Cavs in 2015:
Salute to No. 13! #StickStickity
Wait, before we wrap this up, let’s bring back The Booz News:
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