Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Joakim Noah At 29...A Grown Man!!!

With today being February 25th, it’s time for us all to wish Joakim Noah a happy 29th birthday. Happy Birthday Joakim! Your parents should be very proud of the son they raised. I remember when my mom was screaming at the television when your father beat the defending French Open champion Mats Wilander way back in 1983 to become the first Frenchman to win the French Open in 40 years. They all remember your father as a passionate player on the tennis court. I guess that’s where you get your passion for the game of basketball from.

The one thing that I have noticed about you while following this team is that you want things done and done right. People need to realize that A) you know how to play basketball and B) you know how to win. That’s why your comments after the loss to the Miami Heat yesterday is yet another step that you are taking to become like it or not, the face of the Chicago Bulls. Right now you are the undisputed leader of this team and believe it or not your play will be paramount to the future to the Bulls. I know Bulls fans are going to go nuts over that statement considering that Derrick Rose is still a Bull. To those people I say, where has he been for the last two years? We don’t even  need to go that far, what about his year? Remember when the Bulls were like 3-11 coming out of the gate? Now this team is 29-26 which has them as the 4th seed in the Leastern Conference one game behind Toronto in the loss column. A lot of players would be fat and satisfied, but not this guy. Noah has character folks.

Maybe Noah got it in his last two years at Florida. When the Gators went back to back winning National Championships. Maybe he learned how being selfless and being a team player can make you successful playing with a young team consisting of four sophomores and a junior that shocked everyone winning the first title in 2005. Sure he probably could have gone pro and chased the money. But maybe he learned loyalty coming back with the rest of the Gators’ starting five and winning another championship for Florida the next year marking the first back-to back national champs since Duke in 1991-92. It also marked the first time it had been done with the same line-up. He was selected ninth by the Bulls in 2007 behind his teammates Al Horford (third to Atlanta) and Corey Brewer (seventh to Minnesota).

Somehow I knew that he would be all right in the NBA when there were reports that he had an altercation with Ben Wallace over some rookie hazing. If you have the heart to stand up to Big Ben in those days, you could stand up to anybody. Everybody clowned him about his shooting motion but, he stayed true to himself and worked on his game. Now he’s a better free throw shooter and finisher around the rim for it.

Joakim Noah voiced his frustration after the Bulls got run out of Miami to Atlanta by the Heat yesterday. He got on his team about not playing hard for 48 minutes. He had a point. The Bulls shot 36% for the game against the Heat. Understand that Noah shot 7-11! He mentioned in his rant that he didn’t care about the team missing shots (that’s a good thing because this team misses a ton) but the team lacked the intensity against a team of Miami’s caliber. What does that tell us? He sees something that needs to be addressed early before the playoff run. Sure the Bulls were without Jimmy Butler, but he is the catalyst to Coach Tom Thibodeau’s “No Excuses” culture that has kept this franchise afloat for the last two years.

If you have been paying attention over his career, you would know that this is vintage Joakim Noah, the leader in the locker room and soon to be the face of this franchise. Bet on it!

Happy Birthday Joakim Noah! The Bulls play the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night.

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