Noah, Deng excited about All-Star game for Bulls, each other

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Noah, Deng excited about All-Star game for Bulls, each other

DEERFIELD, ILL.For Luol Deng, this is now old-hat. For Joakim Noah, it was an event that needed to be shared with virtually everybody in his life.

But both Bulls teammates, named Eastern Conference All-Star reserves Thursday evening, were adamant in stating that their shared honor reflects upon the entire team, not just themselves individually.

Its great. Im happy for myself and the team. You really dont get to be an All-Star unless your team is doing great, Deng, the Bulls leading scorer and league leader in minutes per game, said after the teams shootaround Friday morning at the Berto Center. It says a lot about the team and my teammates. To be able to have the record we have has a lot to do with it.

Noah concurred: I wouldnt be here without my teammates, without my coaches and this organization. They believed in me. I came in as a young, loud rookie, probably a little immature and just with a big mouth, and they always believed in me through it all, through the good times and the hard times, and I just want to say I appreciate them.

The sixth-year center, who thanked many of his loved ones via Twitter throughout Thursday evening, admitted that hes still loud, but alluded to his maturity and finding his niche as a star role player whose statistics might not be eye-catching to fans, but whose game is appreciated by the leagues coaches.

Its different when you come in as a rookie, compared to when you have six, seven years, he explained. A lot of people helped me along the way, so theres definitely a lot of people to thank. Not only does it make me happy, but it makes a lot of people that were with me happy. A lot of people had to make sacrifices in order to get me where Im at today, so I just wanted to thank them.

It means a lot and I also want to thank everybody who appreciates my game. Its an unbelievable honor and its very humbling, so I just want to say thank you to all the people who showed me love and appreciate what I do, Noah continued. People were coming up to me and saying I had a shot to make it, so it was pretty nerve-wracking. Its just an unbelievable honor. I found out last night and still cant believe it."

Jo has worked so hard," Deng said. "I know there are a lot of people in the league who work hard. But Im happy Jo got the opportunity. From the start of the year, the way he has performed and his effort dealing with a lot of minutes, hes really been committed to this program and winning. Im glad hes getting the recognition."

As far as his vote in goes, Deng's happy to be called an All-Star once again.

Its exciting to do it again. Consistency is a big part of what I want to be and what I do. Im just glad Ive had the chance to do it again," Deng said.

"The way weve been playing and the coaching staff weve had the last three years, the teammates, it says a lot. I dont think I would get it if we dont have the record we have. It says a lot about our team. I didnt get it the first year with Coach Thibs but I felt I had a great year that year. The system is perfect. It allows me to show a lot more than scoring. I can show a lot of people what I can do. To do it again shows youre consistent. Thats over with and you go to the next challenge.

The mutual appreciation between the two teammates with international background goes both ways, as Noah expressed his admiration of Deng, both on and off the court.

Its huge. Im proud to be able to play with a guy like Luol Deng and Im proud also to be African. I try to go back once a year and just stay in tune with my roots, said Noah, whose mother is Swedish and father, the former French tennis superstar Yannick Noah, is originally from Cameroon. Deng's one of my best friends on the team and I think that hes somebody, for African players, hes kind of like an ambassador, somebody who does a lot for the kids out there... Theres more to playing basketball and if youre able to help others, thats just as big as anything.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was also pleased that both players were selected to play in the game, which takes place Feb. 17 in Houston.

As I told them today, first of all, I think its a great honor for both Jo and Lu. I also think its an honor for our team and our organization, and all their teammates. When you win, people recognize that, I think theres value in that. But Jo and Luol have worked so hard and theyve earned it, he said.

Theyre team-first guys. I see the work they put in each and every day, and I see the commitment that they made. To me, thats the best type of leadership you can have. Its more through their actions, what they do each and every day. A lot of people say all the right things and do none of them.

When it comes to Noah, Thibodeau recognizes the progress he's made each season.

I think hes made steady progress throughout his career. Youre talking about a guy who had a great college career, hes gotten better each year. I look at the stuff that these guys have been through throughout their careers. When Luol got here this team was struggling, so hes gone through all of that. Jo came in, it was a little bit better, but theyve been through a lot of adversity and persevered. Theyve shown a lot of resiliency, its great, and great for our organization.

Deng said that he and Noah making the team is also a tribute to the defensive-minded Thibodeau, as neither is a flashy player or a huge scorer and in a season without the sidelined Derrick Rose thus far. The duos hard-playing styles and teams record made an impact on other coaches.

It just shows how good Coach is. Even with the record we have now, there are a lot of games you can look back at and say we shouldve won. Every game we give ourselves a chance to win. No matter who is hurt or in the lineup, he finds a way to get guys going and the next guy stepping up. He puts guys in the perfect position to succeed, Deng explained.

You get voted in by coaches and coaches see what it takes to win. When it comes to voting, a lot of fans follow the stats and flashiness and what they see on TV. Thats part of it. But when it comes to coaches, they really credit teams for the effort and what they do. With the way we play here in Chicago, it fits in perfectly. All the fans that follow us see what we do.

Chicago man steals the show at Oscars, gets gifts from hometown sports teams

Chicago man steals the show at Oscars, gets gifts from hometown sports teams

Leave it to a Chicago man to steal the show at the biggest awards ceremony on the planet.

Gary, an unsuspecting tourist who arrived on the Academy Awards stage as part of an elaborate Jimmy Kimmel gag, got the opportunity of a lifetime. Along with his fiance, he chatted up some of the most famous celebrities in Hollywood and even got Denzel Washington to preside over his wedding. 

Now, the internet sensation is getting some love from his hometown basketball squad. The Chicago Bulls tweeted an invitation for when he returns to the Windy City. 

Gary, who was rocking a purple iPhone case, will also be receiving a gift from the Bears.

Not bad for a vacation to California. Keep living the dream, Gary, but please don't let us find out that you're actually from the suburbs.

 

Dwyane Wade's near-miss of a triple-double caused by friendly Felicio fire

Dwyane Wade's near-miss of a triple-double caused by friendly Felicio fire

In a season where the triple-double has become commonplace to the point of stat chasing in the effort to chase history, Dwyane Wade didn't mind snatching his own piece of turf.

In a game where teammate Jimmy Butler reached the feat for the first time this season, it would've been doubly satisfactory for Wade to achieve the fifth triple-double of his career.

One rebound away in the final seconds of the Bulls' 117-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the memo didn't reach Cristiano Felicio, who reached over Wade to grab a rebound, causing it to harmlessly fall out of bounds and ending Wade's chance at history.

After Wade finished with 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in 34 minutes, he was asked if he "hated" Felicio for interrupting his moment.

"No hate. Just a strong dislike, though," said Wade with a wry smile. "You know how long it's been since I had a triple double? It's been a long time."

It's been six years, as his last triple-double came in the 2010-11 season with the Miami Heat, achieving the feat with a 22-point, 12-rebound and 10-assist performance against the then-Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 4, 2011.

Even more than the statistical feat was Wade's variety, as he grabbed seven rebounds in the decisive third-quarter run that broke the game open, hitting Butler and Bobby Portis for long touchdown passes that would've had Jay Cutler or whichever quarterback the Cleveland Browns are banking on next fall, blushing.

Perhaps even more impressive was the fact it was on the second night of a back-to-back with the Bulls winning in overtime against the Phoenix Suns—a game where Wade turned it up late then threw it down over Alex Len in overtime.

"I think we just found our groove," Wade said. "We've had some injuries that have gone on but we're playing good basketball."

More pointedly, so is Wade, aided by him often finding Felicio for easy dunks on the pick and roll as they play second and fourth quarters together. 

Felicio was clearly bothered by his gaffe, which was made worse by the take-no-prisoners approach from Wade and Butler. When a member of foreign media approached him about an interview, Felicio said "you're not asking me about that last rebound, are you?"

Later in the evening, Felicio went to Twitter, posting "I did not know!!" in reference to Wade's night.

"I told him I didn't not even gonna act like I ain't mad at him. I'm very mad at him," said Wade with a laugh. "But he's all good. He said he didn't see me down there. So he took a shot at my height. It's cool. Jimmy had one. It would've been nice to have two triple doubles."

"I'm sure a stat would've came out that would've said, ‘Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are the first duo to get a triple-double on a back-to-back since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen', since they got every record around here."

He was close, although Jordan and Pippen didn't achieve their feat on a back-to-back but a random night in the 1988-89 season. Jordan scored 41 with 11 assists and 10 rebounds and Pippen had 15 with 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a 126-121 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We laugh about that often, but it's all good," Wade said. "I gotta work harder till I get another one one day."