Bulls: Noah 'ready to rumble', grateful to help kids at shopping spree


Bulls: Noah 'ready to rumble', grateful to help kids at shopping spree

Nobody disliked watching Joakim Noah hobble around last season more than Noah himself, as he followed up a top-5 MVP finish with arguably his most disappointing as a pro.

But just as spring brings hope for baseball players, the summer does wonders for injured basketball players given the requisite time to rest and recover from the wear and tear of previous seasons.

“I think it’s gonna be great. I’m really excited. I’m healthy,” said Noah at his back-to-school giveaway at the Footlocker on State Street downtown, through his Noah’s Arc Foundation. “Haven’t felt healthy in a long time. I’m really excited for the coming year. It’s gonna be a lot of ball movement. I’m just really excited to come in and prove myself.”

“I’m moving a lot better. I feel strong. I’m ready to rumble. I think last year was a tough year for us. Sometimes humbling is good.”

[MORE: Bulls: Validated Butler taking accountability, finding motivation]

Playing 67 games, his scoring averaged dipped nearly by half (12.6 to 7.2), his assists and rebounds took a modest downturn and his defensive rating raised above 100 points allowed per 100 possessions (102) for the first time since the 2009-10 season, the last before Tom Thibodeau took over. A knee surgery after the 2014 playoffs took a longer time to recover from, resulting in the medical staff and management placing a minutes’ restriction on the center—creating a mini-controversy between the front office and Thibodeau.

“Injuries (stink),” said Noah, using a more colorful word. “When you’re an athlete you want to feel good. Sometimes you take your health for granted. It definitely put a lot on things in perspective for me. And now I’m a lot more focused. Very excited for what’s coming.”

Returning virtually the same roster with the exception of rookie Bobby Portis and a new coach, the humbling loss at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round doesn’t diminish much of his confidence.

Many believed he could be the odd man out as far as personnel moves from management, but the Bulls want to take another go at it with this core.

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“I think continuity is gonna be great for us,” Noah said. “Even though it’s the same group, it’s still gonna be change at the leadership role as far as coaching. So it’s gonna be very different. So having the same team brings stability as well.”

As was his excitement for the coming season with new coach Fred Hoiberg, who visited him in California after being hired shortly following Thibodeau’s ouster, was his giddiness for helping the kids as part of his foundation. Dozens ran through the Footlocker and Kids Footlocker as part of his back to school shopping spree, giving Noah a huge level of satisfaction.

“It’s a blessing,” Noah said. “To be able to do this, bring some kids to the footlocker, thanks to footlocker for doing this and it’s just cool to put a smile on those kids faces.”

“I think that it’s important to use your platform and to be able to do some positive things. Feels good to have nice clothes and nice shoes going into the school. It’s good to keep the kids as active as possible through our foundation with after school programs. Chicago’s been good to me so I’ll try to help out.”

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Joakim Noah jersey]

Noah has been outspoken about quelling the gun violence that has raged rampant through the city, which has senselessly taken too many Chicago youths. He’s produced documentaries and raised awareness, leading to being awarded the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his dedication to the Chicago community.

Seeing the maturity of the kids impacted by his foundation is a level of satisfaction unmet by many others.

“To me that’s the best feeling, just knowing I have a relationship with some of these kids, I’ve seen them grow,” Noah said. “I’ve been working at this community center for four years now. So watching them grow up and seeing them take leadership roles. For the younger kids, some of them started off playing in the leagues and now they’re coaching. I’m really excited about it. Being with a franchise for nine years I’m able to do things like this. So it feels great.”

Monte Harrison, brother to Bulls' Shaq, makes sibling sports history

Monte Harrison, brother to Bulls' Shaq, makes sibling sports history

Miami Marlins center fielder Monte Harrison made a bit of history on Aug. 4, when he laced up for his first ever MLB game.

With his debut, he and older brother Shaq officially became just the sixth MLB-NBA brother duo in league history. The most recent? Klay and Trayce Thompson, the latter of which appeared in his last MLB game on June 20, 2018 for the White Sox. Chicago ties all around.

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Shaq used his trademark brand of heart and hustle to work his way up from two 10-day contracts with the Phoenix Suns to a multi-year pact with the Bulls. Monte's path to the majors began in 2014 after the Milwaukee Brewers plucked him in the second round of the Amateur Draft from Lee's Summit West High School in Lee's Summit, Mo. He was jettisoned to Miami as part of the Christian Yelich trade in 2018. 

In 2019, Monte played 58 games between Miami's High-A and Triple-A affiliates, slashing .270/.351/.441 with 9 home runs, 24 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He's been known to flash some leather, too, and entered this season the club's tenth-ranked prospect.

Since his call-up, he's appeared in four contests (three starts) with the Marlins, and is just 1-for-10 at the plate with five strikeouts. But we'll forgive some early-career stumbles. His first big-league base-knock, which came on Thursday, was perfectly emblematic of what Bulls fans have come to expect from the Harrison household.

Yup. A cue-shot infield single. Exit velocity: 44.3 mph. Expected batting average: .190. But he beat it out. And followed it up with a stolen base. You can't script this stuff.

"I don’t know what my mother did, a lot of prayers, a lot of believing, and trust in us," Monte said after his debut on Tuesday, via Bob Nightengale. "We just worked our ass off.''

That much is evident.

RELATED: How Bulls’ Shaq Harrison impacts games, even with limited playing time


Latest on the NBA's second bubble for teams eliminated from restart

Latest on the NBA's second bubble for teams eliminated from restart

With the NBA restarting with 22 of its 30 teams, there was buzz in early July of a second bubble coming to Chicago for the eight teams excluded to get in organized team activities and possibly scrimmages.

Now, it appears those talks have significantly slowed, if not stalled entirely.

The Athletic reported Tuesday that there is "significant doubt" the second bubble concept will come to fruition, but Friday, that bringing the "Delete Eight" teams into the Disney campus has been discussed. Any agreement — whether it be a full-on bubble or respective, in-market OTAs — would require stringent safety protocols and need to be agreed upon by the league and NBPA.

On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down the latest scuttlebut:

Well, the latest is, you really got only one shared goal between these eight teams and that is to get some kind of formal group activities authorized by the league and the players association.

How that plays out and the form that takes, there are different goals. There are some teams that wouldn't mind doing a bubble. There are other teams that would rather stay in their own practice facilities and not travel. There are other teams that want to do regional scrimmages against another team. And complicating this is that Michele Roberts, the executive director of the players association, is on record as saying: Unless there are the exact same safety protocols going on in Orlando for the second bubble, it's a non-starter for her.

The league's attention mostly has been in Orlando, obviously, and that was a signficant financial undertaking. So you'd also have to factor in that, what kind of financial undertaking would they commit to these eight teams. It did look like there was some positive momentum for, not a bubble, but for each team to be able to hold some sort of offseason training sessions, group sessions in their own facilities, like OTAs in the NFL.

And I don't think that's dead, but there's certainly not as much optimism as there was maybe a week, ten days ago for that. I mean, it's fluid, and there's nothing definitive yet, but you may be staring at that dreaded eight month window between formal group activities for these eight teams. 

In the episode, the crew also breaks down the week in NBA bubble action, talks Jim Boylen and more. Listen here or via the embedded player below: