Previous ArticlesNoah saves the ball and the Bulls against Pistons
Bulls loaded with All-Stars; take the All-Star quiz
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jan 24
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Joakim Noah, collegiate champion, iconoclast, innovative wardrobe manager with a career 8.9 scoring average his first two seasons, once suspended by his teammates, anthropology who clearly has evolved and is fond of talking about “swag,” is now an NBA All-Star.
Noah landed his first All-Star appearance and was joined by Luol Deng, making his second All-Star appearance.
Yes, the Bulls have — at least when you include Derrick Rose, who was an All-Star starter the last two years — three All-Stars. And that doesn’t include Carlos Boozer, who is leading the Eastern Conference in double-doubles.
Noah and Deng are joined among the reserves by Chris Bosh, giving Miami three All-Stars, the Knicks’ Tyson Chandler, the Pacers’ Paul George, the 76ers’ Jrue Holiday and the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving.
Perhaps the biggest omission is the Nets’ Brook Lopez, whom Noah obviously kept off, along with the Bucks’ Brandon Jennings and the Celtics’ Paul Pierce. No Nets were added as Deron Williams has had a poor season. Joe Johnson also was left off along with the Hawks’ Josh Smith, who was suspended just before the voting and failed to get his first selection.
Only the several of the often out of touch TNT broadcasters, where the picks were announced, had J.R. Smith on the team. Many feel the fans shouldn’t pick starters given players like Garnett added. Yet, leaving it to players you’d get a much less deserving player like the erratic Smith, who plays off the bench.
Deng has been leading the league in minutes played and while out now with a hamstring injury, he leads the Bulls in scoring at 17.4 per game. Noah is averaging 12.2 points and 10.9 rebounds in having his best season and leads all NBA centers in assists at four per game, second most among the Bulls.
Noah is tied for sixth in the league in rebounds. He’s eighth in blocks and minutes played. Noah also is considered the mid season favorite to be the Defensive Player of the Year with the Bulls now second in the league in defensive field goal defense and fifth in three point defense. The Bulls are 25-16 overall at the midpoint of the season with Rose out as they’ve relied on Deng and Noah.
Noah becomes the 15th All-Star in Bulls franchise history.
It’s an appropriate honor for Noah, who though the voting already was done made his statement in the win over the Pistons Wednesday night with the game saving save of the ball leading to the winning points, perhaps the most unusual and special play by a center as Noah dove stretched out for the loose ball and passed to Marco Belinelli for the winner.
Occasionally considered a flake, injury prone and somewhat disconnected, Noah has proven to be a leader for the team this team with Rose out. He’s marshalled the defense, tangled with Kevin Garnett, been as versatile as only LeBron James with scoring, rebounding and playmaking and gotten into his usual emotional exchanges with coaches, as he did with Tom Thibodeau last weekend against Memphis.
But then, typically, Noah came out with big performances, 13 rebounds and a career-high six blocks in outplaying Dwight Howard against the Lakers and then the game saving play and 18 rebounds even as he remained in a fury during the game with officials and even teammates against the Pistons.
In many respects, Noah, who like Deng has been mentioned in trade talks over the years, has become a symbol of the success the Bulls have had in recent years.
Similarly with Deng, the long unappreciated Bulls forward, faulted for his lack of late game scoring, the ability to create greatness and for not being traded for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Danny Granger or O.J. Mayo.
But Deng has emerged, quietly, as usual, as a second time All-Star, one of the league’s best perimeter defenders as an all-league defensive team player, the team’s MVP, according to coach Thibodeau as Deng has played this season with a torn wrist ligament, and even a late game closer. That was last week in Toronto when the Bulls went to Deng to win the overtime game in Toronto and he complied with 3.3 seconds left.
Noah also provides an amusing story line with fellow All-Star Anthony as both have feuded and almost fought with All-Star teammate Garnett, though Garnett is known to embrace his new teammates immediately and likely will go after David Lee, who looks to be the least muscle defined Western Conference All-Star.
Noah offered these comments on Twitter after the announcement:
“Can’t believe it. This has been a long journey. I want to thank my teammates and my mother for dealing with my shitiness.”
Don’t really think that’s a word, and he could have added Thibs.
Noah also added: “I want to thank all my boys for keeping me on track through the years. Even though we sometimes took steps back we always stayed on track.”
I’ll include myself there for all my trade proposals that weren’t exercised.
Noah clearly was overcome as he also wrote: “Thanks to Mr. Green for making me take the 7 train every Saturday from Times Square to Junction bid. Made me stronger. Love you for that.”
That would be Tyrone Green, a Boys and Girls club coach who helped Noah.
It went on as Noah added a “shout out to Skosky..Matty..Chu..” and others that continued onto the evening.
Noah also thanked the Bulls organization “for believing in me,” calling it “family away from family,” a thank you to “Thibs and the whole staff” for dealing with his stuff, various family members, his teammates and, I thought interesting, Lenny Cooke, one of many highly publicized New York City point guards who never made it while the relatively unknown and lightly regarded Noah is considered an official Star.
Thank you to the bulls organization for believing in me. Family away from family
— Joakim Noah (@JoakimNoah) January 25, 2013
With also a shoutout to Laird, Gabby and Bikram.
It’s going to be the rare, special party in Houston, you have a feeling next month.
Deng also wrote on his Twitter account — which is mostly how media find out what athletes have to say these days — thanks to the Bulls staff, his teammates and the fans, a congratulations to Noah and regrets to Boozer, whom Deng wrote “should be in also.”
The Western Conference reserves are Tim Duncan and Tony Parker of the Spurs, Russell Westbrook of the Thunder to join teammate starter Kevin Durant, former Thunder and current Rocket James Harden, formerly a sixth man with the Thunder, Zach Randolph of the Grizzlies, David Lee of the Warriors, the first Warrior in 16 years, and LaMarcus Aldridge of the Trail Blazers.
That left off the Warriors’ Stephen Curry, the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford, a longshot pick as a backup and the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol and the Jazz’ Al Jefferson. There were no players from the Denver Nuggets, who are having a strong season. The biggest omission is Curry, and he’s in Chicago Friday with the Warriors. Overlooked potential All-Star have a history of taking out their frustration on the next team they play to “make a statement.”
The Eastern Conference starters are Dwyane Wade and LeBron James from Miami, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett from Boston and Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks.
The Western Conference starters are Durant of the Thunder, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul of the Clippers and Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard of the Lakers.
Fans voted in the starters and the coaches added the reserves. The Celtics and the Lakers, both with records below. 500, each have two starters.
Meanwhile, in honor of Noah an Deng making the NBA All-Star game to be played in Houston February 17, here’s the big Bulls All-Star quiz:
1. Name the first Bulls All-Stars and in what year.
2. Michael Jordan obviously had the most All-Star appearances as a Bull with 12. He was selected 13 times a Bull but was injured in 1986. Who was second and with how many?
3. Jordan was All-Star MVP three times with the Bulls. What years?
4. After Jordan and Pippen, who had the most All-Star appearances as a Bull?
5. What was the East’s record in the 12 All-Star games in which Jordan played?
6. Where is Jordan all-time in All-Star scoring average?
7. The Bulls once got three All-Stars. What year and who were they?
8. How many Bulls’ All-Stars can you name? There have been 14.
9. How many points did Jordan score in his first All-Star game in 1985?
10. What was Jordan’s best All-Star game?
1. Guy Rodgers and Jerry Sloan in the franchise’s inaugural season, 1966-67.
2. Scottie Pippen, seven.
3. 1988, 1996 and 1998.
4. Artis Gilmore and Chet Walker with four each.
6. Jordan is third behind LeBron James at 25.9 and Kobe Bryant at 20.8. Jordan is second overall in All-Star scoring, nine points behind Bryant in each with 13 games (Jordan one with Washington).
7. In 1994, it was Pippen, Horace Grant and B.J. Armstrong.
8. Rodgers, Sloan, Bob Boozer, Walker, Bob Love, Norm Van Lier, Gilmore, Reggie Theus, Jordan, Pippen, Armstrong, Grant, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng.
9. Seven. That was the alleged famous “freezeout” came when Isiah Thomas and then close friend Magic Johnson supposedly conspired to make Jordan look bad. Jordan shot two of nine, but had the same number of points as Moses Malone who had 10 shots. There never was any proof, though it was a good story for many years and some speculated one of Jordan’s self-motivational tricks.
10. 1988 in Chicago when he won the dunk contest with a foul line flying dunk and scored 40 points in the East win. In 1997, Jordan was the first player with an All-Star triple double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.