Joakim Noah Says Luol Deng Is His 'Brother,' Wants to 'Kick His A**' in Reunion

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2014

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 13: Luol Deng #9 and Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls walk off of the court following their 71-69 loss against the Boston Celtics during the game on February 13, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Joakim Noah doesn't let little things like family stand between the Chicago Bulls and a victory.

Not even if that "family" is Luol Deng.

Chicago will take its dwindling supporting cast to the Cleveland Cavaliers' front door Wednesday, where it will face Deng for the first time since trading him in a barefaced salary dump. 

Noah, who was Deng's teammate for more than six years, will naturally be experiencing a wide range of emotions, none more powerful than the desire to deliver a good ol' fashioned butt-kicking, according to ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell:

Not to say Noah despises Deng, because he doesn't.

But rules are rules:

There's that pony-tailed sense of humor we've come to know, love and chortle at almost daily. Though it appeared Noah's morale and general levity was bulldozed upon Deng's departure, his spirit has soared on the heels of Chicago's impressive performance since the trade. 

If you remember, Noah, clearly broken up about the Bulls' decision, went dark for a while. When he finally broke his silence, it wasn't business or jokes as usual.

"The trade definitely hurt, but we gotta move on," Noah said during his postgame interview on Jan. 11, per CSN Chicago.

Moving on didn't figure to be easy. 

First Derrick Rose went down, taking Chicago's title hopes with him. Then Deng was traded, (supposedly) flattening the Bulls playoff chances in the process.

From there, a distraught Noah preached patience, telling reporters after that same game that he would need time to move on, via USA Today's Sean Highkin:

I know a lot of people say this is a business and all that, but this game is more than a business to me. I put everything I've got into this. I feel like Lu was the same way, so it was hard for me to digest. But that's just my perspective. Everybody has a different job. I'm not mad at anybody. I'm not mad at the organization or anything like that. It's just that my brother isn't here, so I just need time to digest that.

Six wins and two losses later, Noah seems to have digested everything just fine. The Bulls are tied for the Eastern Conference's fifth best record, firmly planted in the playoff conversation.

As for Deng, Noah still cares for him. Loves him.

Like a brother.

A brother he plans to seek out and destroy once that ball is up in the air.