One of the reasons Joakim Noah feels so strongly about the Bulls' chances this season is the development of Derrick Rose. The All-Star point guard told ESPNChicago.com recently that he wanted to be the guy who brings the Bulls back to where they were during the Jordan era, and Noah enjoys seeing that kind of confidence. He has no problem with Rose saying he wants to be the face of the franchise.
"I think it's about our team, and that's going to be the strength of our team … what everybody can bring to the table,” said Noah, who doesn’t worry about Rose being the face of the franchise. “To beat those stars in Miami, that kind of star power, it's going to come down to our best players like D. Rose to our last guy off the bench.
“You look at those championship teams [like the Lakers], Sasha Vujacic was the one who clinched it at the end of the game. So everybody on a championship team has to be into it. Everybody has to be into it for the right reasons, and I think that's the way we're going to win is to all be on the same page and all have a common goal and that's to win."
Noah realizes that the only way the Bulls are going to do that is with Rose leading the way on the floor.
"Now, being the face of the franchise, I think that everybody understands that for us to take it to the next level we need Derrick to play at a very high level, and we need everybody to play at a high level," he continued. "But I think that everybody understands that if we want to take it to the next level, of course, Derrick fits that mold. Especially a guy who doesn't talk a lot, it makes me happy when I hear a guy like Derrick talk like that, because it shows how much he's maturing as a player and the confidence level that he has in his game."
"Obviously, those were kind of like my two best friends on the team," he said. "They were guys who brought a lot to the team, on and off the court. I'm going to miss Brad a lot, and Kirky was a helluva captain, not very vocal, but somebody that would always pull you to the side. I loved it when he would just pull me to the side and he would be like, ‘You got to get it together. Calm down.’”
Miller and Hinrich had a way of calming down the emotional center.
"Sometimes I'd get too excited, and Kirk was always that guy to kind of get everybody on the same page,” Noah said. “I think that for me, [being a] vocal leader, it all depends on the situation. We got a lot of new faces, and it depends on the situation. When situations come at hand, it's how you deal with them. It's not one player, I don't think it's one player's responsibility. Sometimes when it's the same guy talking and talking in the locker room it gets kind of annoying, so you also have to know when to shut up when you're a leader."
Noah isn't about to be quiet about his team's chances any time soon. He believes that with the moves the Bulls have made this offseason they can start contending for a title right away.
"If that's not the goal, I'd be really upset if anybody on our team thought anything less," he said. "With everything that we've got in place, of course I think there's a lot of question marks, but I think we've got a lot of talent and it's going to be really exciting. I think we're going to compete against the best of them, and that's what it's all about. To me, it's just being in a position to compete against the big boys -- that's all I want. At the end of the day, it's yours against mine, and I like my chances."