Bulls’ Joakim Noah, Luol Deng make NBA All-Star team
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org January 24, 2013 6:47PM
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) high fives team mate Luoi Deng after scoring and receiving his first career triple double at the United Center on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. | Tamara Bell~Sun Times Media
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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:44AM
From doghouse to All-Star, it was quite the week for the Bulls’ Joakim Noah.
It was announced on Thursday night that Noah made his first All-Star Team after six seasons, with the coaches selecting the 6-foot-11, 232-pound former first-rounder out of Florida as a reserve for the Eastern Conference Team.
Noah won’t be going alone, either, as Luol Deng was also selected for the second consecutive season, but Noah was a sentimental favorite as the announcement was building.
Noah was averaging a career-best 12.2 points per game through the first 40 games, to go along with 10.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.1 blocks. He recorded his 21st double-double of the season with 10 points and 18 rebounds in the win over Detroit on Wednesday, and he has grabbed at least 13 rebounds in six of the past seven games for the Bulls.
All the while, he’s done this averaging a career-high 38.3 minutes per game, which was the eighth-highest in the league.
While he downplayed All-Star talk early in the season, after the Pistons game the last-minute campaigning came out.
“It would be really special to be selected as an All-Star,’’ Noah said. “You got to control what you can control and I can’t really control that. Only time will tell.’’
Noah described an NBA season as a “roller coaster’’ recently, and he would know. Noah was pulled from a Saturday loss to Memphis, had some words with head coach Tom Thibodeau, and then found out exactly who was in charge, as Thibodeau sat him the final 23 minutes of the eventual loss.
Afterward, Noah took off early, deciding not to speak to the media, but after cooling off for 24 hours, not only addressed the issue, but all but apologized to Thibodeau and his teammates.
“Thibs would never talk bad or say anything bad about us in the media, but that was all me,” Noah said then. “He took me out. I was emotional about it. I was pissed off. I said some things I shouldn’t have said. You learn from it and move on. That’s the mindset I wanted to have. It was my fault. There are so many games. I didn’t want it lingering. I have the ultimate respect for my head coach.’’
Noah let his play do the talking after that incident, pulling down 13 rebounds in the win over the Lakers, while spending most of the game in foul trouble, and then doing what he did against the Pistons, including the play of the game when he dove for a ball and saved it, leading to Marco Belinelli’s game-winner with 7.5 seconds left.
“To me things like this happen, more than you would even realize,’’ Noah said of his last week. “I’m an emotional player, and like I said, this basketball season is a roller coaster. I try to be as controlled as possible, but it’s tough for me.’’
Thibodeau felt that Noah, Deng and Carlos Boozer were each All-Star worthy, but Boozer started off the season with some inconsistencies, before going on his recent tear late in December.
Deng was averaging a team-high 17.4 points per game for the Bulls, to go along with 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and leading the league with 39.8 minutes per game.