Greatest Moments from Joakim Noah's Season with Chicago Bulls

Andres MonteroContributor IMay 7, 2014

Greatest Moments from Joakim Noah's Season with Chicago Bulls

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    Joakim Noah was Chicago's leader on and off the court.
    Joakim Noah was Chicago's leader on and off the court.Associated Press

    Joakim Noah gave Chicago Bulls fans one of the more memorable seasons in the past few years.

    Chicago overcame adversity, winning 47 games in a season where it lost Derrick Rose to injury once again and traded team captain Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Noah was the face of it all, as he stepped up to the plate and carried the team with his offensive versatility and intense defense.

    There were more than a few standout moments throughout the season, from his nightly triple-double watch, to the accolades he received. Noah's season—along with the Bulls'—was surely one to remember.

    Noah also gave us some great moments off the court, like his reaction to the Windy City's unrelenting weather or his description of his Defensive Player of the Year Award.

    With that in mind, let's start things off on a lighter note.

Tony Snell Forgets to Celebrate

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    Noah didn't just give us incredible box scores and hustle plays, he also gave us one of the funnier moments of the Bulls season.

    After scoring a basket, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle called a timeout, leading Noah to begin high-fiving his teammates while running toward the bench, the grand finale being a flying chest bump with rookie Tony Snell.

    Except Snell didn't reciprocate.

    This led to Noah shaking his head in pure disappointment, and it didn't look like he was very fond of him.

    It goes to show just how emotional and in-the-moment Noah is, though. After the game, Noah tweeted that he "loved his rooks" and then jokingly said he and Snell would work on their celebrations.

    Hard not to enjoy this one.

Feb. 11 vs. Atlanta Hawks

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    It may seem like a random game against a lower-profile opponent, but this was the first game in which Noah recorded a triple-double, marking the start of the nightly triple-double watch.

    Watching Noah play almost became an event. The points and rebounds were almost a guarantee as he averaged a double-double this season, but could he get the 10 assists?

    Noah had flirted with triple-doubles before this game, coming a couple of assists or points shy. In this game, though, Noah wasn't going to be stopped.

    After the first half, Noah had recorded seven points, eight assists and 11 rebounds. He finished with 19, 11 and 16, respectively.

    It was his first of four triple-doubles, which ranked him second in the league behind Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson.

    The real story isn't Noah's ability to stuff the stat sheet, though, but rather how his game evolved and how he took over for a team that was being written off.

    His offensive game saw drastic improvement.

    He was putting the ball on the floor, realizing he was faster than most players defending him. His jump shot improved too—though not his form—as he shot 40 percent on shots 16 feet and farther from the rim this season, compared to 35 percent in 2012-13.

    From his hustle on the glass and on loose balls, to his shot-blocking, to his precise whip passes and backdoor bounce dimes, Noah showed he was the NBA's most versatile big. 

Second Consecutive All-Star Selection

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    Noah's strong season earned him his second All-Star selection.
    Noah's strong season earned him his second All-Star selection.USA TODAY Sports

    In 50 games prior to the All-Star Game, Noah was averaging nearly 12 points to go with 11 rebounds and four assists. It was more than enough to earn him his second All-Star appearance in as many years.

    It's always a special moment for a player when he is recognized for his performance, especially by coaches around the league. Noah continued to build on a strong campaign by improving across the board after the break, particularly his passing.

    With Rose out for the year and Deng in Cleveland, Noah was the last chance for the Bulls to have a presence during All-Star Weekend.

    He displayed his versatility in New Orleans, scoring eight points, snatching five rebounds and dishing out five assists in just 21 minutes.

     

     

Overtime Win vs. Miami Heat

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    Joakim Noah doesn't like the Miami Heat. He's made that pretty clear over the years.

    So it's no surprise that he would account for two clutch plays in the last two minutes of overtime to beat the Heat in one of the Bulls' most thrilling games of the season.

    The first was an offensive rebound he stole from Heat center Chris Andersen, leading to an easy basket that put them up seven points.

    In the ensuing possession, after a missed three-pointer by Chris Bosh, Miami got the rebound, leading to a Mario Chalmers drive to the basket where he met Noah, who blocked the shot at its apex.

    It was a big win for Chicago, which had lost two its previous three games, both in which it failed to score more than 80 points.

    More importantly, though, it was a win over its biggest rival that also evened up the regular-season series.

MVP! MVP! MVP!

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    Noah's season kept trending upward, earning him MVP consideration.
    Noah's season kept trending upward, earning him MVP consideration.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It was undoubtedly Noah's best season so far. With career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals, Noah had elevated his game to an entirely new level.

    But it was the circumstances under which he accomplished this that made it that much more special. It wasn't long until fans were lauding him with MVP chants, something he didn't exactly like.

    In an interview with Bulls.com's Chuck Swirsky, Noah stated, "I don't like it. Because our MVP is not playing. We have one MVP, and that's Derrick Rose."

    Yet another example of how important his team is to him and the type of leadership he brings to Chicago.

    Still, Noah played like an MVP candidate, and the media recognized it as the energetic center finished fourth in the voting results.

    Bulls statistician Jeff Mangurten notes Noah's name was on 94 of the 125 ballots. He had never received a vote before this season.

Winning Defensive Player of the Year

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    Noah capped off his remarkable season with a prestigious NBA honor.
    Noah capped off his remarkable season with a prestigious NBA honor.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Noah's regular season had to cap off with a bang.

    There was no better way to reward him and his style of play than by naming him the league's Defensive Player of the Year. Noah led the league in defensive win shares and defensive rating and was ninth in blocked shots, per basketball-reference.com.

    Among the league leaders in blocks, Noah ranked seventh in opponent field-goal percentage at the rim, per NBA.com.

    It didn't stop at protecting the rim. Noah's versatility is what separated him from the pack. His ability to switch on pick-and-rolls and guard any position, from quick point guards like John Wall or Tony Parker to elite small forwards like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

    And as if Noah hadn't shown all season long how much of a team leader he was, he somewhat deflected the honor during his acceptance speech, saying it was a more of a team award than anything.

    He credited Tom Thibodeau's system and players like Mike Dunleavy, who, despite not being known for his defense, stepped up when necessary, whether it was a steal here or a charge taken there.

    Not just that, but Noah, the character he is, delivered another hilarious moment during his speech, via CSN Chicago's Tony Andracki, saying, "This award is not about me. Even though I get to go home with that weird-looking dude and that weird stance. That's not even a great defensive stance."

    Winning the award was truly a culmination of Noah's season.