Joakim Noah calls NBA defensive player honor a ‘team award’
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter April 21, 2014 1:23PM
Updated: April 21, 2014 10:41PM
Bulls center Joakim Noah walks to the beat of his own drum, so, of course, he accepted the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in his own unique style Monday.
Noah took time to make fun of the statue and its “weird-looking defensive stance,’’ asked if he actually gets to keep the car that comes with the award and dedicated the honor to his mentor, Tyrone Green, who died last week. He was his usual humble self, calling it a team award, first and foremost.
“All the work ethic, it all comes from you,’’ Noah said to his dad, Yannick, who was in attendance at the ceremony. “Mom, I don’t even know what to say. Just every day, all the hard times I put you through, single mom in New York City. It’s not easy.
“This award is a team award. This wouldn’t be possible without my boy Kirk Hinrich, an old man, picking up [the opposition] full-court. My whole team. Of course, [coach Tom Thibodeau], we’ve definitely had our hard times, our ups and downs, but without your system, this wouldn’t be possible.’’
He earned 100 of the 125 first-place votes, 92 more than the eight first-place votes that Roy Hibbert (second) and DeAndre Jordan (third) received.
“I’m always surprised with everything that happens to him,’’ Yannick Noah said of the honor. “I don’t get used to it. Every time he gets introduced at the United Center, I just can’t believe it.’’
Noah became the second Bull to earn the honor. Michael Jordan won it in the 1987-88 season.
Noah’s candidacy was hard to beat. He helped the Bulls hold opponents to a league-low 91.8 points per game, and they ranked second in opponents’ field-goal percentage (.430).
“I don’t do this for awards; I do this to win games,’’ Noah said. “One day we were working out at the Berto Center, and Thibs was putting me through a real hard workout, and I said, ‘You know, Thibs, if we weren’t winning games, I would really, really hate you.’ And he said, ‘Trust me, Jo, I feel the same way about you.’ ’’