I’ll take hard work over born and bred talent any day of the week. More often than not, so will the city of Chicago. The only thing they love more than a good work ethic is a fun place to drink with minimal exposure to minorities, hence why the Chicago Cubs franchise makes so much money without winning in a century.
Joakim Noah is the embodiment of hustle and desire over talent and skill. Yes he has talent, but his craving to apply maximum sweat equity to his profession is what has made him a two time NCAA champion, two time NBA all star, and the unquestioned heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls franchise.
I have been a fan of Joakim Noah since the suit he wore on draft night. From there he won over the hearts and minds of both myself and the entire Chicago fan base by getting noticeably better every year of his pro career and by constantly hustling his ass off every single game regardless of time of season, home or away, regular season or playoff, nail biter or blowout. That is the kind of effort that Chicago demands of its superstar athletes. Or at least the ones who want to be considered local legends.
Derrick Rose is now perceived as being soft, fairly or unfairly, right or wrong. He has suffered legit injuries, it is in his method of recovery that a very large, very thick cloud on his integrity and grit has arisen. The only question regarding Noah is whether or not he’ll get ejected from a game for wearing his emotions on his sleeve so intensely.
With Rose habitually out of action due to injury, Luol Deng being traded, and the Bulls organization following protocol and refusing to make a trade at the deadline, Noah is both the metaphorical and leader of the Chicago Bulls for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. Because of this, they are winning. Noah has taken his game to the next level, matching his fostered talent with born perseverance. He is scoring more points, grabbing more rebounds, and assisting his teammates scoring more.
The only people who don’t like Noah now are out of towners. Fans of other NBA franchises who just can’t stand that Noah has just enough skill to back up his mouth. Chicago loves him and likely always will. He is the new A.J Pierzynski, who was the new Jim McMahon, who was the new Norm Van Lier…and the beat goes on.
Noah is everything that is right about pro sports, and he smokes weed. He’s not an arrogant primadonna. He’s not lazy. He’s not soft. He doesn’t negotiate his contract in public. He gives time and money to charity. He constantly thanks and gives props to the fans. You need only have vision to see the effort he gives every season, every game, every play, every minute, every second. Joakim Noah is the heart and soul of the Bulls, but now the talent is matching the will. If those two continue to intersect and correlate with better tangible performances, he’ll be a legend of the game in addition to a legend of the city, which he already is.