You don’t have to go far down the list before hearing Joakim Noah’s name when discussing the best players in Bulls history.
On Thursday, Noah will be honored ahead of Chicago’s game against New York for all of the blood, sweat and tears he left on the floor wearing a Bulls uniform. Chicago is off to a 4-0 start and will be energized by the Bulls fans at the United Center. They will certainly make sure their honored guest feels the “Windy City” love.
Many former Bulls players made the trip to Chicago on Wednesday for a pre-ceremony party ahead of Thursday’s game. Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Tony Kukoc and Brad Miller all made appearances. Current Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau and Taj Gibson also stopped by for the festivities.
Noah spent nine seasons in Chicago from 2007-2016. During that stretch, he was a three-time All-Defensive Team member and a two-time All-Star. He won Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-NBA First Team in 2014.
What they’re saying about Joakim Noah
Ahead of Noah’s big night, the Bulls released a video with many former teammates expressing what Noah meant to the franchise. Here are some of the best quotes from the video.
Derrick Rose, former Bulls teammate: “Joakim is full of charisma. He show love to everybody. He touched the city in a different way. Like a few of my friends, I’m not their favorite player on the team, it was Joakim Noah, but I couldn’t say nothing ’cause that’s big bro.”
Cecilia Rodhe, Joakim’s mother: “He always said I play for that guy (pointing to the sky) with the broom up there, that’s him. And that relationship was important to him. So, all those efforts that he made on the court had meaning to it. I think Chicago is very real. People recognized in Joakim something authentic. The love was real, the hustle was real, the intention was real. … All that stuff that makes Chicago, Chicago was brought forward by this team because they had a very authentic relationship to each other. It was very deep.”
Sam Smith, Bulls.com: “He turned simple energy into skill. His joy for the game, his enthusiasm and his commitment to it — actually, transformed itself almost into a high level of skill that you couldn’t have scouted or imagined.”
John Paxon, Bulls senior advisor: “He is, to me, the most genuine player I’ve ever been around. There’s no phoniness to that guy and I think that’s one of the things that our fan base ended up loving about him, it’s what we loved about him.”
Kirk Hinrich, Bulls legend: “Jo, his energy when he walks in game day, rubbed off on everybody and it brings out the best in everybody. You play all these games and whether you’re feeling great, not feeling great, watching him prepare game day the energy you see he is going to bring it. It just rubs off on you and you can’t help but try to bring that same level of energy or you’re going to be embarrassed. He’s that type of guy who just plays that hard all the time.”