Noah and Rose make their awaited homecoming at the United Center
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Joakim Noah has never been one to mince words.
So when asked on Friday about his frustrations in his final season as a Bull, well, Noah wasn’t about to start sugar-coating things now.
“[Bleep] happens,’’ Noah said. “It’s a locker room.’’
And what a locker room it became at times last season, as dysfunction was there from training camp and never really subsided.
That’s why Jimmy Butler is still a Bull, Pau Gasol is in San Antonio, and Noah and Derrick Rose are with the Knicks. Like Butler indicated on Wednesday, the core had gotten stale and needed to break up. Noah wasn’t about to disagree with that.
“I think it was time for change,’’ Noah said. “There’s no question about that. It seems like this [the current Bulls team] is a happy group. That’s good. That’s how it should be. I wish everybody well.’’
Noah wasn’t the only one reflecting on the past few seasons.
With this year’s collection of Bulls players continually talking about improved chemistry and leadership compared to the past few years, in making his first return to the United Center since he was traded, Rose was directly asked if he felt he was a good teammate.
“Forget teammate,’’ Rose said. “I’m a good person for one. Teammate don’t have anything to do with the person I am. I never disliked anyone. If I did, they didn’t know. It’s good that they have chemistry though.’’
Usually that would be considered a strange answer. But coming from Rose it’s been part of the package.
Rose again said that Chicago fans had taken him for granted, and was asked if he had somehow become the villain now.
“I wouldn’t say villain,’’ Rose said. “People just didn’t understand me. I didn’t let them. I was too focused. We were losing. So I held everything in. I didn’t voice my opinion the way I wanted to and the way I expressed it was being quiet. I’m an introvert.’’
That, however, also was a big reason why there was a disconnect between Rose and the likes of Butler. While both again reiterated that it was never personal, it was two different leadership styles clashing.
“He’s not a bad guy at all,’’ Butler said of Rose. “He’s just not a talkative one. I think we have guys in here [now] that love to talk, love to joke around and be around each other, hang out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing about him, it’s just him.
“But like I said, with the guys we have right now, we don’t have anyone like that. I’m not saying that’s the reason for anything that happened last year, but it’s just a very different vibe around here.’’
And while Friday was billed as a homecoming, there was also some healing, especially for Noah.
Noah’s final season with the Bulls was a model in frustration.
He had to deal with a then-rookie coach in Fred Hoiberg benching him and the miscommunication that come from it. At the same time, the likes of Noah and Rose felt that Butler’s grab at leadership was more of a hostile takeover, and then finally he saw his season end early when his shoulder popped out, forcing him into surgery.
“There was definitely a lot of adversity going on there,’’ Noah said. “Now I can look back at it and see where things went wrong. It’s not about blaming one person. Everybody in that locker room is good people.
“At the end of the day, the things I remember the most are good memories from everybody. I have no hard feelings towards anybody.’’