Thursday, January 30, 2014
Noah an All-Star for second straight year
By Nick Friedell
NEW ORLEANS -- Joakim Noah is an All-Star for the second year in a row, named to the Eastern Conference team on Thursday.
"It's definitely not a trend," Noah said on a conference call with reporters when asked about making it two straight years. "I'm not going to take none of these experiences for granted. I feel so blessed, just really thankful."
Noah is having his best all-around season, averaging 11.7 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game. The All-Star berth is something he has tried to downplay in recent days, but it's an honor in which he takes great pride.
"It goes through your mind," Noah said. "I'm just happy. I'm honored to be selected to play in the All-Star Game, play against the best players in the world. It's very humbling. I'm happy the hard work is paying off. Even though it's not my priority, it's still a pretty good achievement. I'm proud of it."
Noah is having his best season despite the Bulls' losing Derrick Rose to another knee injury and Luol Deng in a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With talk of tanking games in what many consider now a lost season, Noah has been outspoken in his belief that real fans want their team to win, not tank games.
"Seriously, it's not about what people say," Noah said after the Bulls' win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. "It's about what we think. It's not about what anybody else thinks. It's about what people think in this locker room. I just appreciate my teammates' effort. At the end of the day, I think that's bigger than anything. Just keep building good habits, keep grinding. We've got a lot of young guys, and I think we're going to get a lot of very good experience and it's going to be a very positive year for Chicago."
While Noah downplays any changes he has made from a leadership standpoint, teammates and coaches have been raving about not only his all-around game, but his role off the floor. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has said he believes Noah is playing the best basketball of his career.
"I think he's grown quite a bit," Thibodeau said. "I think his playmaking has been incredible, but his defense has always been there. His rebounding has always been there, but he's much more of a complete player now."
Noah, who will be the Bulls' lone representative in New Orleans for All-Star weekend on Feb. 14-16, says the first time was a blur.
"I don't really remember it too much," he said. "I don't remember the game too much. I remember my father sitting there, with my [youth] coach Mr. [Tyrone] Green, who practically raised me. Another father figure. Having them sit there, I was proud to have my loved ones watching me."
ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg contributed to this report.