While the Chicago Bulls might have their most competitive roster since the early 2010s (at least, on paper), I think it’s safe to say nothing will ever take the special place that team holds in Chicago’s heart.
Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah may not have left the city with a ring around their finger, but they brought the franchise closer than it had been since the Michael Jordan era. And Noah sounded nothing short of thankful for that experience in a recent episode of the Knuckleheads Podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.
Noah joined Richardson and Miles to reflect on his 13-year long career, and the former Defensive Play of the Year reminded all of us why he is a fan favorite with his candor and admiration for the Windy City.
I went there [United Center] not long ago to watch a game, just driving by that arena, I was like, ‘man.’ The amount of times – the amount of days – I used to get to this arena and just be geeked. I’m talking ready to run through a wall. You couldn’t say sh*t to me on gameday. I was just an animal … it’s hard to explain. You can’t feel that in anything else you do in life. Playing in front of 25,000 going crazy with that much hope, it’s hard to describe.
The game Noah attended came back on March 22nd against the Utah Jazz, just a couple of weeks after he officially announced his retirement. Even though he sat in an empty United Center, the team still blasted a tribute video over the big screen in what felt like the tease for (hopefully) a more fitting retirement ceremony in front of a packed crowd down the road.
Noah – unsurprisingly – also touched on his close bond with the 2011 MVP. The two not only defined an era of Chicago Bulls basketball, but they rose (pun intended) up the league ranks in nearly dominant fashion. Unfortunately, we all know this stint atop the NBA leaderboards was short-lived, as Rose’s injuries painfully brought the Bulls back down to earth.
“It was definitely tough because – you look back at that time – we were the No. 1 team in the NBA,” Noah said when asked about Rose’s injuy. “We had the best record, playoffs start, Game 1, we are on a mission. We just lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to Miami. We got Rip now, and we’re like this is the year. This is the year we’re getting sh*t. Then, he tore his ACL, and I think everyone kind of remembers where they were, what they were doing when that sh*t happens. One of those moments when I heard he tore his ACL – I didn’t even think much of it when it happened. I thought, ‘okay, he’ll miss a couple of games and he’ll be back.’ But, it was depressing as hell.”
It was the beginning of a sudden end no one expected to see, but it never seemed to taint just how special Noah viewed Rose’s gifts.
He’s a guy that every time he walked through the gym, he brought hope for the city. Every time he got onto the court we got a chance to chill. No body was messing with this Bull. He was playing with everybody.
Noah went on to openly talk about his struggles in New York, his fiercest competition, and (duh) why he would never go to Cleveland on Vacation! Any time this man sits down to talk, it’s worth a listen, so put those AirPods in and press play.
Click here for the full interview.
Tomorrow we got 1 of the guys I wished I could have had as a teammate at some point! 1 of the most passionate guys I’ve watched play this game!! Yessir I’m talkin None other than the @JoakimNoah!! pic.twitter.com/2znTabl5uZ
— Quentin Richardson (@QRich) September 6, 2021