Joakim Noah doesn't want your "MVP" chants, Chicago.
Following the Chicago Bulls' 95-88 overtime victory over the Miami Heat Sunday, Bulls.com's Chuck Swirsky (h/t Beyond The Buzzer) asked the big man about Noah-specific "MVP" chants that rang throughout United Center.
Noah's response was predictably unpredictable.
"I don’t like it," he said. "No, I don’t like it."
"Because our MVP is not playing. We have one MVP, and that's Derrick Rose. And it’s not about MVPs, it’s about rings, and one day I hope that we can get one here."
Chivalrous as always, Joakim.
But I would disagree. For now, at least.
Noah is the most important player to the Bulls right now. He has been for the past two seasons.
This year, Noah has been especially important. He ranks in the top 15 of win shares, according to Basketball-Reference, and he's missed only three games despite battling an assortment of injuries.
By the start of next season, Rose will have appeared in 50 games—playoffs included—over the last three campaigns. It's difficult to be the team's most valuable player when he hasn't consistently been on the floor.
To that, some will argue his absence is proof enough.
What's the one thing preventing the Bulls from becoming legitimate title contenders?
Derrick Rose's absence. With him, they would be able to make that next step. They would rival the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat.
My question: Would the Bulls be as good as they are now if they had a healthy Rose instead of Noah?
Think about that. Really think about it before you answer.
Keep it to yourself if you must, too. It really doesn't matter. Even if the answer is Noah, he would never admit to it. That's the type of player and person he is. And when it comes to Rose, forget about it.
The Bulls' big man will never do or say anything that can be interpreted as an indirect shot at Rose. He made that much clearer last season, when he repeatedly defended Rose's continued absence, often speaking of the fraternal bond they share.
"Derrick's a brother," Noah said last May, per ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell. "And to see him go through this is tough, but at the end of the day it's really funny how quick people are to judge. But people don't know what it's like to lead a team, especially after you tore your ACL."
Nothing has changed between then and now. Noah wasn't after Rose's status then, and he's not after it now.
All he cares about is winning.
"That's all I want," Noah told Swirsky of winning NBA titles. "I don't care about none of that stuff [MVPs]."
Whether he cares or not, though, doesn't matter.
Right here, right now, Noah—not Rose—is Chicago's unquestioned MVP.