Joakim Noah Speaks…
Chicago’s emotional leader finally opens up to the media.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
Since having surgery on his injured right thumb immediately after a mid-December road game against the Raptors, Joakim Noah has been seen, but not heard (from).
He finally broke his media silence before Chicago’s game against the same Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night and was open about everything from his rehab, his TV broadcasting experience, and even Derrick Rose as a legitimate MVP candidate.
On playing the night before his surgery:
The doctor said it wouldn’t make a difference. I asked him if I could play and he said, ‘Well you’re going to have surgery tomorrow but if you want to play, I guess you can do whatever you want.’
On when he’ll have his cast removed:
On recently being able to resume workouts and what he’s been doing:
I’ve been working out for a little while now. Don’t tell anybody though. I want them to think I’m just chilling, on vacation. But I will be back. I’m just taking it day by day, controlling what I can control. I’ve been running, doing some conditioning, doing some lifting, a lot of core work, a lot of leg strengthening, but it’s hard to make everything game-like. There’s nothing like playing in a basketball game. There’s nothing you can do to simulate a basketball game. But I’m doing the best I can. I can work on my left hand. I can’t crossover, but I can work on my in-and-out with my left hand and when it matters, I’ll be ready.
On if he’s been practicing shooting left hand jumpers:
Nah, come on. Even shooting a normal jumpshot is new to me, you know [laughs]. So I’m just enjoying that.
On if he’s learned anything while not playing:
I’m learning that we’re a pretty good basketball team. The potential is scary, but I think we definitely have a ways to go and there are a lot of areas to improve on. We’re in a pretty good place right now [with the win-loss record], we just have to keep improving, stay humble, stay driven and not get caught up in any of the hype even though I think we’re a little bit under the radar. But I think we have a chance to do something pretty special here and that’s exciting.
On if the Bulls being under the radar is a good thing:
You know, when you strap up at the end of the day, none of it really matters. I think that’s the way we have to look at it.
On missing the Christmas Day game and potentially both of the games against the Miami Heat:
That Christmas one at home [in New York] was pretty tough for me, but missing games are always tough. Missing practices are tough. Of course I want to play in the big games and Miami, of course, is a game that I want to play in. But I just want to be there with my teammates and just improve as a group and see how far we can take this thing.
On if sitting out makes him love the game more:
Being injured as an athlete, it sucks, you know. It definitely puts things in perspective, it makes you appreciate the game a little bit more, and I think I had to deal with that a little bit last year. But being injured is a part of the game. Every athlete goes through it; it’s just how you deal with it.
On having an opportunity to play with Carlos Boozer:
I think that Carlos is obviously somebody who takes our team to a whole other level. I’ve never played with somebody who was that gifted offensively in the post. I’m very excited to hopefully learn a few things from him and even when I was playing with him, I was hurt; I didn’t really have a right hand. So I’m excited to play with him when I’m 100 percent healthy.
On being third in fan voting amongst Centers in the 2011 NBA All-Star balloting:
It’s cool, you know. But I think there’s a bigger picture than just All-Star balloting. Obviously as a player it’s humbling — it’s definitely not nothing — but at the end of the day you have to look at the big picture and the big picture is to play at the end [in the NBA Finals].
On his TV broadcasting experience during the New Years eve game against the Nets:
I was actually pretty nervous. It’s tough. I had to cough at one point and I didn’t know that you had to push a button [to mute it]. People are talking in the earpiece and I didn’t know you had to keep talking while that goes on, so I had to learn a lot on the fly. But overall, people said it was pretty good, I was a little bit worried about it, but it was cool.
On the importance of playing on a close-knit team and how that translates to success on the floor:
I think it means a lot. When you have teammates that respect each other, I think it really makes a huge difference. I think everybody is in this for the right reasons and I think that’s very important. But it’s not just a question about being close, I’ve been on teams that have been very close and we couldn’t win a game. It’s more than that. It’s about sacrificing for one another and not being selfish. Yeah, I’ve been on teams where we’ve hung out more, but that doesn’t particularly mean you’re going to win more basketball games. I think it helps to be close, but at the end of the day, playing for the right reasons is more important.
On Derrick Rose being a legitimate MVP candidate this season:
I think at first when he said it in the beginning of the season everybody kind of looked at him like he was crazy. But he’s somebody that has a lot of confidence in his ability and we’re playing at a pretty high level right now because of it. He’s somebody that understands that the success of this team is going to determine a lot of things for him individually. He understands that well. Ever since he got into the League he’s understood that it’s not about his stats, it’s about the success of this team that’s going to bring everything.