Joakim Noah spreads credit for All-Star spot, talks up Bulls title

Written By BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter Posted: 02/16/2014, 02:36am
Array CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 13: Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls reacts after a basket made during the game against the Brooklyn Nets on February 13, 2014 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Ray Amati/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS — Not in his wildest dreams, Joakim Noah said, did he think he was going to be an NBA All-Star. And you can be pretty certain that Joakim Noah has some pretty wild dreams.

‘‘I can’t believe it,’’ Noah said Friday. ‘‘All this hard work since I was a little kid, to be able to say that I’ve been to the All-Star Game twice. I was a ballboy at the ABCD camp. I used to be a ballboy for a lot of these guys here . . . Tony Parker, Carmelo. Now, to compete against these guys and be a part of All-Star Games, it’s just something I can’t take for granted ever.

‘‘That being said, I’m not satisfied. I still want more.’’

He’s not talking about more All-Star Games.

‘‘My ultimate goal is to win a championship,’’ he said. ‘‘I believe we’re going to win a championship in Chicago — and I want to win it with Derrick Rose. That’s the ultimate goal, and I’m going to do everything I can to put us in a position to play in those big games. And when our time will come, whenever that is, it’ll be the best party in the world.’’

Even out of his element at an event that celebrates individual accomplishment, Noah is in rare form, celebrating the Bulls, his teammates and everybody and everything that got him where he was Friday. Noah rivals Jonathan Toews and Paul Konerko as the most sincere and dedicated team players in Chicago. For a guy who really enjoys being Joakim Noah, he has a healthy appreciation for those who made him Joakim Noah.

Meeting the media Friday in a ballroom of a Hyatt hotel next door to the Superdome and the Smoothie King Center that will host the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, he toasted his New York City roots — the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood where he grew up and the Brooklyn Poly Prep high school that helped get him on the right path. He gave kudos to his beloved Florida Gators and coach Billy Donovan.

He gave props to former teammate Luol Deng (‘‘Bulls or no Bulls, Lu’s always going to be my brother’’) and even Larry Bird, his old-school choice for a mythical 3-on-3 teammate.

‘‘Because he talks a lot of [crap] and he’s tough as hell and likes to win by any means necessary,’’ Noah said. ‘‘And he can shoot the [expletive] out of it.’’

But most of all, Noah celebrated his Bulls teammates.

‘‘I know I wouldn’t be here without my teammates,’’ Noah said. ‘‘I’m a guy who scores off opportunities. You look at the play of Taj Gibson, D.J. Augustin, Kirk Hinrich, Carlos Boozer coming back from his injury to give us huge minutes. Just everybody — the whole team. Even Derrick — just seeing how he’s approaching his rehab. Really killing it. That’s what I’m most proud of.

‘‘I think we’re the hardest-working team in the NBA, on the court or off the court. The way we practice. The way we carry ourselves. I’m proud that we have that identity — when you play the Chicago Bulls, we’re crackin’. We’re going to the offensive glass every time. We’re playing defense. We’re the first to the floor. I’m proud to be a part of that.’’

And of course, Derrick Rose.

‘‘Derrick’s voice means so much to our team,’’ Noah said. ‘‘When I see him talking to Jimmy Butler during a game . . . or Tony Snell . . . he talks to me all the time . . . it just gives me confidence. He has that much impact on our team.

‘‘He’s our star player. And he’s a good dude. That’s why it was hard to see him go down again. But he’s a warrior. He never lets up, and I think the way he’s working right now, it makes me hungrier that I know our time will come.’’


Twitter: @MarkPotash

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