After working with Kareem, Jo ready to go

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
3:06
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Kareem Abdul-JabaarFocus on Sport/Getty ImagesJoakim Noah worked with Kareem Abdul-Jabaar this summer, but don't expect too much.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Joakim Noah has always looked up to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, so it should come as no surprise that the Bulls' center took Jabbar up on his offer to work with him this summer.

After all, it was Noah who excitedly had a picture taken of he and Jabbar when the Lakers' legend walked into the Bulls locker room after a game last season.

The pair spent a couple weeks in Los Angeles this summer working on the finer points of Noah's game. It was an experience that clearly meant a lot to the emotional big man.

"I've been working on every part of my game. I feel a lot more polished offensively," Noah said Wednesday.

Noah doesn't want fans getting their hopes up too high, though. While he feels he has improved, he's not going to start dropping Jabbar's patented sky hook consistently just yet.

"I worked with Kareem a couple weeks, but just because I worked with Kareem doesn't mean that I'm going to be throwing sky hooks from everywhere," Noah said. "But I feel like I learned a lot from him.

"He's somebody who has an unbelievable knowledge for the game, and a very interesting guy. It was great learning about his routine and things he did to get prepared for a season. Somebody who did a lot of yoga and somebody who's very involved in the community and stuff like that. Just spending a little time with him was cool. But you know how it is, you work with him and obviously people think, "He's going to come back with a sky hook," and unfortunately it doesn't work like that. But I'll tell you what, even at 65 years old, his sky hook is still nice."

Jabbar, formerly Lew Alcindor, is from New York City, which is where Noah spent many of his formative years. Noah called the entire experience "humbling."

"His knowledge is unbelievable," Noah said. "He just knows a lot about the city."

As for the rest of his game, Noah feels confident because his ankle is finally ready to go. He badly twisted his left ankle in last spring's playoffs and finally feels as if he is back to 100 percent health.

"I've been trying to do stuff on the court the whole summer but I feel like I was able to go on the court 100 percent maybe three weeks ago, about a month ago," he said. "Just staying on it, working on it all the time. Just doing ankle rehab; it's something that I think I'm going to have to do the rest of my career."

Deng's wrist a non-issue: Speaking of injuries, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau reiterated that he believes Luol Deng is ready to go this season and his wrist won't be a problem.

"He's fine," Thibodeau said. "I felt that last spring when he said he was feeling a lot better. So prior to going to the Olympics he pretty much felt that he had strengthened the wrist quite a bit, it was feeling a lot better, and when he plays I can't see any noticeable difference. He's doing all the things he did before, so I don't think it's an issue."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
21.9 3.3 1.6 39.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.7
AssistsD. Rose 5.1
StealsJ. Butler 1.6
BlocksP. Gasol 2.0