Joakim Noah spreads credit for All-Star spot, talks up Bulls title
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter February 14, 2014 11:50PM
AT A GLANCE
What: 63rd annual NBA All-Star Game.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Smoothie King Center,
On the air: TNT/1000-AM.
Player Pos Ht Wt
Carmelo Anthony, NY F 6-8 235
Paul George, Ind F 6-8 221
LeBron James, Mia F 6-8 250
Kyrie Irving, Cle G 6-3 191
Dwyane Wade, Mia G 6-4 210
Chris Bosh, Mia F-C 6-11 235
DeMar DeRozan, Tor G 6-7 216
Roy Hibbert, Ind C 7-2 290
Joe Johnson, Bklyn G 6-7 240
Paul Millsap, Atl F 6-8 253
John Wall, Was G 6-4 210
Joakim Noah, BULLS C 6-11 232
Coach: Frank Vogel, Indiana
Player Pos Ht Wt
i-Kobe Bryant, LAL G 6-6 205
Kevin Love, Min F 6-10 243
Kevin Durant, Okl F 6-9 230
Blake Griffin, LAC F 6-10 251
Stephen Curry, GS G 6-3 185
LaMarcus Aldridge, Por F 6-11 240
r-Anthony Davis, NO F-C 6-10 220
Dwight Howard, Hou C 6-11 265
James Harden, Hou G 6-5 220
Damian Lillard, Por G 6-3 195
Dirk Nowitzki, Dal F 7-0 245
Tony Parker, SA G 6-2 185
Chris Paul, LAC G 6-0 175
Coach: Scott Brooks, OKC
i-injured, will not play; r-replacement
Updated: February 16, 2014 2:36AM
NEW ORLEANS — Not in his wildest dreams, Joakim Noah said, did he think he was going to be an NBA All-Star. And you can be pretty certain that Joakim Noah has some pretty wild dreams.
‘‘I can’t believe it,’’ Noah said Friday. ‘‘All this hard work since I was a little kid, to be able to say that I’ve been to the All-Star Game twice. I was a ballboy at the ABCD camp. I used to be a ballboy for a lot of these guys here . . . Tony Parker, Carmelo. Now, to compete against these guys and be a part of All-Star Games, it’s just something I can’t take for granted ever.
‘‘That being said, I’m not satisfied. I still want more.’’
He’s not talking about more All-Star Games.
‘‘My ultimate goal is to win a championship,’’ he said. ‘‘I believe we’re going to win a championship in Chicago — and I want to win it with Derrick Rose. That’s the ultimate goal, and I’m going to do everything I can to put us in a position to play in those big games. And when our time will come, whenever that is, it’ll be the best party in the world.’’
Even out of his element at an event that celebrates individual accomplishment, Noah is in rare form, celebrating the Bulls, his teammates and everybody and everything that got him where he was Friday. Noah rivals Jonathan Toews and Paul Konerko as the most sincere and dedicated team players in Chicago. For a guy who really enjoys being Joakim Noah, he has a healthy appreciation for those who made him Joakim Noah.
Meeting the media Friday in a ballroom of a Hyatt hotel next door to the Superdome and the Smoothie King Center that will host the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, he toasted his New York City roots — the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood where he grew up and the Brooklyn Poly Prep high school that helped get him on the right path. He gave kudos to his beloved Florida Gators and coach Billy Donovan.
He gave props to former teammate Luol Deng (‘‘Bulls or no Bulls, Lu’s always going to be my brother’’) and even Larry Bird, his old-school choice for a mythical 3-on-3 teammate.
‘‘Because he talks a lot of [crap] and he’s tough as hell and likes to win by any means necessary,’’ Noah said. ‘‘And he can shoot the [expletive] out of it.’’
But most of all, Noah celebrated his Bulls teammates.
‘‘I know I wouldn’t be here without my teammates,’’ Noah said. ‘‘I’m a guy who scores off opportunities. You look at the play of Taj Gibson, D.J. Augustin, Kirk Hinrich, Carlos Boozer coming back from his injury to give us huge minutes. Just everybody — the whole team. Even Derrick — just seeing how he’s approaching his rehab. Really killing it. That’s what I’m most proud of.
‘‘I think we’re the hardest-working team in the NBA, on the court or off the court. The way we practice. The way we carry ourselves. I’m proud that we have that identity — when you play the Chicago Bulls, we’re crackin’. We’re going to the offensive glass every time. We’re playing defense. We’re the first to the floor. I’m proud to be a part of that.’’
And of course, Derrick Rose.
‘‘Derrick’s voice means so much to our team,’’ Noah said. ‘‘When I see him talking to Jimmy Butler during a game . . . or Tony Snell . . . he talks to me all the time . . . it just gives me confidence. He has that much impact on our team.
‘‘He’s our star player. And he’s a good dude. That’s why it was hard to see him go down again. But he’s a warrior. He never lets up, and I think the way he’s working right now, it makes me hungrier that I know our time will come.’’