Joakim Noah embraces underdog role

Updated: July 26, 2012, 4:34 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah said Thursday he and his teammates don't mind the fact that some people are overlooking them while Derrick Rose recovers from ACL surgery.

Rose tore his left ACL in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls lost that first-round series in six, and Rose underwent surgery on May 12. The prognosis was for him to be sidelined 8-12 months.

"I haven't seen him in a couple of weeks, but I know he's working really hard at getting back as soon as possible," Noah said on "The Herd" on ESPN Radio. "Obviously, it was a tough break for us, but we're going to bounce back.

"Right now, people are sleeping on us, and we're all right with that. We know at the end of the day, come playoff time, we'll be ready to go."

While other Eastern teams, such as the Brooklyn Nets, made big splashes in the offseason, the Bulls lost key members of their bench in Omer Asik, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer. The Bulls picked up Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli and Vladimir Radmanovic.

With Rose out, not many would expect the Bulls to notch the best regular-season record for the third season in a row.

"I'm just focused right now on what I can do to help the team," Noah said when asked if he's concerned the Bulls didn't improve. "Obviously, we've lost some pieces. We've added some pieces. It's exciting.

"We've gone through a little bit of adversity, but I think we're a team full of fighters. That's what I love about Chicago, about the Bulls."

During a chat on ESPN.com, Noah said the ankle problems that precluded him form playing for France in the Olympics are improving.

"My ankle is feeling a lot better," he said. "It's not 100 percent. I'm rehabbing it in NYC. It's one of the reasons that I'm not playing in the Olympics this year, to make sure it's 100 percent for the NBA season."

Noah was asked on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000 about his reaction to many Philadelphia fans cheering when he went down with the injury.

"I was just more worried about trying to get back on the court," he said. "That hurt more, not being able to play.

"But Im not going to lie, it's extra motivation. I'm excited about going back over there."

Noah also talked about working with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he didn't walk back from a previous statement that the Miami Heat are "Hollywood."

"Do I still believe they're Hollywood? I think they're Hollywood, but you have to give them credit, they're champions right now," Noah said. "One day I hope to get that. You have to give credit where credit is due."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE NBA HEADLINES