NEW ORLEANS — Possessing a team-first approach and lacking the gaudy scoring numbers of most of his counterparts, Bulls center Joakim Noah put his second consecutive All-Star selection in the proper perspective.
“I feel good, man. It feels great to be selected and I couldn’t do it without my teammates, so I want to thank them. I’m not like a guy who’s going out there just scoring in the post or just demands the ball for scoring, so it’s all my teammates, really. I’m proud of the way that we’re fighting. It’s tough to beat anybody in this league. Everybody has to have this fighter mentality,” Noah said. “It feels good. It feels really good. It’s an unbelievable honor to play in the All-Star Game. I just want to represent the team the best way I can. I’m happy. I’m just really happy to be a part of it.”
Noah scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his debut All-Star appearance last season, but he stood out for playing in his usual energetic style, while most of the other players were more casual, at least until the game’s stretch run. Noah, however, insisted that he had his own highlight moment in the exhibition affair.
[RELATED: Noah humbled by All-Star selection]
“First of all, you guys want to talk about that,” he joked. “But nobody wants to talk about that crossover that I had, so don’t get it twisted.”
When the assembled media attempted to move on to the next subject, Noah wouldn’t give it up: “Do you remember the crossover, though?”
All jokes aside, while Noah certainly has a made a name for himself individually in the league with his unique game and personality, it’s clear that his selection is representative of the team as a whole, something Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau agreed with.
“Just thrilled. He earned it. He’s played great. He’s lifted the team up and I was just telling our team, it’s what he’s done for the team. But also, the team is being recognized for the way they play and that’s the beauty of our group. And I think that all the things that Jo excels at make our team better. That’s why I think he deserved it so much,” the coach explained. “He started off the season slowly because of the injury in training camp, but he’s been on a tear and this is his best stretch of basketball. He’s playing great at both ends of the floor, but more importantly, it’s what he’s doing for the team.
[MORE: Thibodeau address thin roster]
“The one thing about him is that he’s driven and he’s very intelligent. I think those type of players always improve. Each year, they add. So this year, I think he’s gotten much better offensively and probably the biggest improvement is the quick decision-making, and that’s made our team a lot better,” he went on to say. “I want him to keep striving to get better. Who knows where the ceiling is? But if he approaches it the right way, which I think he will, I think it’ll be good.
“I think it’s the coaches recognizing what he does for the team, and I think the team has brought out in Jo also because I think they helped him to be recognized. I think the fact that we dug out of a big hole, Jo’s been the leader and I think when a team plays the way our team is playing right now, that players will get recognized and so, Jo’s success is our success and we feel great about him being recognized. As I said, he’s earned every bit of it.”