Joakim Noah media day interview and impressions

I caught up with Joakim Noah at media day for an interview.  As with most of my media day interviews, not all of the questions are mine, and the fight for Joakim's attention was far more fierce than most of my interviewees.   For a guy who's probably walking a bigger landfield than most players at media day, Noah remains open, happy, and accommodating.  He probably spent more time with the media than any other player there but remained friendly and outgoing throughout the whole process.  He was one of a few players who seemed genuinely happy to speak with you.

Don't get me wrong, everyone there was professional and accommodating, but Noah seemed to genuinely enjoy taking his time to answer questions even with the press members he doesn't know well yet.

Physically, Noah definitely looks as though he's bulked up some since past seasons though Bulls fans may have been hoping for more than the five to six pounds he said he gained in the interview, but I think it's a legit five to six pounds unlike many of the off-seasons where guys say they add 15 pounds and look basically the same.   I'd wager there's a good chance that his weight gain is about as good as anyone really gets over the summer, but he just didn't exaggerate it like most players do.

The best thing about Noah is that you have a real feeling that he let's you in.   When he gives you an answer about teamwork or wins over individual achievement, it doesn't feel like a precanned message.   It feels like he believes it, means it, and lives it.

I had the distinction of being the first media member daring enough to disrupt his escort from the NBA photo section to the WGN one, and kicked off the interview by asking what it was like working with David Thorpe this year.

It went very well.  David Thorpe is someone who loves the game a lot.  He's from the university of florida my school.  He's someone been watching me for a long time.  We talked a lot during the regular season and he felt like he could help me.  It was good to go to Sarasota and see his operation at IMG.  I think he helped me a lot and I worked on a few things there that will help me during the season.

What will we see differently this year?

I feel I learned a lot from last year.  I need to be more of a threat offensively.  I feel stronger and I feel more experienced.  I've been watching a lot of film.  I'm going to try to do things a little bit differently this year.

Confidence means everything in sports, second half of the season you really came on what does that do for you this year?

I feel a lot more confident.  I've been watching a lot of film and lifting a lot of weights and working on my game.  I'm really excited for this season.

You said you're going to try to be more offensive this year, what would you like to add to your game this season?

I think I just need to be more aggressive.  Just be more aggressive.  Duck in more.  Be more of a threat.  I've been working on my game a lot, my hooks, my jumper.  I just need to be more of a threat out there.

How about the team?

I think guys ahve been working really hard.  I think we're excited.  Obviously we lost a lot of scoring with Ben Gordon, but everybody understands that they need to step up offensively and especially defensively.  If we can get more stops we'll be more dangerous on the fast break.

Fast break is key here because you have a young nucleus, do you think you'll run more this year?

That's the plan, but to do that we need to get defensive stops and get a better defensive foundation.  I think last year we did pretty well, but if we can step up our defense we'll be even better.

What's your take on going to London for a preaseon game?

It's really exciting.  I have a lot of family and friends for whom it's not that far.  They can just get on the train and come and see me.  That will be exciting because a lot of my family hasn't had the opportunity to see me play since I was 12 or 13 years old.

Did you learn about your own capabilites and how you can play under pressure?

It felt good to play in that environment on the big stage.  I feel confident and that series helped me with that, but this is a new year.  I worked hard in the off-season, and I look forward to playing this year.

Does it feel like it's too soon to be back already?

No, not at all.  It's been a long off-season.  We work for these moments and it's finally here.

What do you think about Brad and John coming over in the trade?

They're both great guys.  Especially Brad, he's helped me out so much.  I'm just happy to have him here from the beginning of the season is going to be such a huge plus to have a vet like that who's been through so much.  Every since he's gotten here, I've been saying how much he's helped. 

What's your realistic goal offensively for yourself?

I don't know, I'm not trying to put too much pressure on myself.  Just be more aggressive.  My goal is just to be more aggressive.  I'm not setting specifical goals.  I just want to help win basketball games.

How do expectations change after that playoff series now that you won't sneak up on teams?

I don't know, we've dealt with expectations before, we had them two years ago, but we didn't do too well.  I think at the end of the day it's about going out there and producing and coming out ready.  Expectations don't change anything.

How is your relationship on the court with Derrick Rose maturing?

The more we play together, the more comfortable we are with each other.  The more we know what we can do.  Obviously Derrick's a great player.  I know he's very excited to get out there on the court and so am I.

You have a very carefree image a lot of the time, do you want your image to change to become a hard working basketball player? 

I've always been a hard working basketball player.  I've always worked hard.  I know I'm different so people are quick to judge me, but I don't really care.

What's the most entertaining thing you've done this off season?

I did a lot of entertaining things this off-season (chuckles).

Name one?

I had a really great time at Lallapalooza.  I had a lot of fun this off-season, but at the same time I worked really hard.  I think it's going to pay off this season.  I'm excited, I always have a great time in life, I enjoy my life, people know that.  Howeer, I'm someone who always works really hard on the court.

Has it become more real that Ben Gordon's not here?

No, it's always been real to me that Ben Gordon wouldn't be here.  It's tough because Ben Gordon was a big part of what we did last year. It's hard for me, because Ben Gordon was a good friend of mine both being from New York we hung out a lot.  However, it is a reality, he did what's best for him and I understand and respect that.  Now it's on us to step up, and we have enough here to do something good.

How much stronger have you gotten this season and how have you expanded your game?

I put on about 5-6 pounds.  I've been lifting a lot of weights.  I feel a lot stronger.  I've played a lot of pick up.  I'm just really excited about this season, I went to IMG for a couple of weeks, worked out a lot, I'm just really excited.

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  • Great questions. Your best interview by far. Noah is a great kid and really wants to improve So excited to see him log major minutes this season.

  • Noah's Ready

    It sounds like he's matured and ready to make an impact.

    I always liked him in college, knew he wasn't an impact player, but felt he was a very good catalyst on the floor for his college team.

    We can't imagine the immense growth Noah probably experienced with the Boston Celtics series. His steal, drive, and slam against Paul Pierce made him a Chicago Bull, at least in my eyes.

    I think a pro's 3rd year is a make or break year for many of them. In two years they should learn the league, their team, and their place in that universe.

    I think Noah is showing the growth he made in high school and then in college as a player. Players that can learn and improve their skills in the NBA are valuable. Noah is about to prove his worth solidly this year as a Chicago Bull.

  • I hope that Noah does a good job for the Bulls and the fans. He put on 5-6 pounds lifting and that is good, why did he wait so long? This is his third year! The slender Pippen and Grant had gained over 15-25 pounds each by the beginning of their third year. Do the Bulls have a daily work out program for Noah? Does he have a personal trainer like Thomas???

    Noah said he always works hard, that is pure BS. The first half last year he was weak ,winded and obviously too lazy to be in shape in his second year. Is he so dumb as to think that the fans will bite on that BS that he always works hard???????

    Noah is lazy, 5-6 pounds won't stop Noah from getting pushed around under the basket as if he were on roller skates. The celts out scored the Bulls 46-18 in the paint and No-Shot Noah scored two from the floor. Where was Noah when te celts scored at will, Perkins and Davis shoved him out of the way!!!! Look at the replays.

    Noah is a joke the French spell it Joakim!!!

    Hopefully, Miller, Deng, Thomas, Johnson and Gibson turn it up and blow by the weak and winded No-Shot Noah!

  • Nice try Doug but "no Sale"!

    No-Shot had ample time to lift weights and get stronger! He played all of last year and he had the off season to get stronger. How long of a time period did he have an eye injury?

    5 to 6 pounds is nothing on a guy Noah's size. Try to find out how much weight Noah can squat and you will see if he is really getting his legs stronger, so that he can fight for position under the rim? Does he run with a weight vest to get stronger?

    Joakim is lazy but it is fun to watch him shoot, everybody gets a good laugh!!!

    Miller, Deng, Thomas, Johnson & Gibson will be in shape and take minutes from No-Shot Noah and his very funny 5-6 extra pounds of muscle!!!!

  • In reply to Alex:

    Apparently you and Noah are brothers, lazy but everybody gets a good laugh.

  • High Doug. First of all I suscribe to chicago now just to thank you and other members of bulls confidential for all the your posts and work.
    have you heard anything about the great free-agency's coming show during the media day?

  • The weak link, No-Shot Noah whose lack of offensive skills and strength leave the Bulls vulnerable in the paint both offensively and defensively. Yes, he gets some long rebounds but his lack of strength will drastically limit has success in the paint.

    If (all) the forwards are stepping up and hustling, Noah's lack of skills and strentgh will limit his time on the floor.. Being out scored in the paint in the last celts game 46-18 would have been much much worse if Garnett was playing in the paint.

    Do you think that the Bulls would have lasted that long with Garnett playing? Would No-Shot have got his two points from the floor if Garnett was playing?

  • In reply to Alex:

    I realize that you are the ultimate basketball genious and the rest of us should just be glad to have access to your knowledge.

    However, are you aware that Noah plays center and Garnett is a power forward. Thus Noah would still have been primarily matched up against Perkins, while your boy Tyrus would have been constantly abused by Garnett(on both ends of the floor), which would have been less embarassig than being constantly abused by the fat boy, big baby Davis.

  • I agree on their probability of success. That's why I am still wondering why they give up so easily on Ben Gordon, despite his beahviour in contract negociation. It doesn't make sens to me and I have the impression, but I maybe wrong, that the chicago press tries its best to not write that it is indeed a mistake.

  • Hi Alex. Where the heck did you surface from. Why all the hate of Noah. Did he take away from you your ugly girlfriend? You don't fluke into two national championships, back-to-back. Not in today's world of competitive national college basketball championships. Noah was a big part of that at Florida. That's why Chicago grabbed himin the draft, and he'll deliver an NBA title to Chicago, their first since Jordan. Thank John Paxson for drafting him. That Celtics series was an introduction of things to come. By the way Alex, who did you have ahead of him in that draft? Tell me what they have done so far in the NBA?
    Alex, you sound like a frustrated Kentucky fan.

  • In reply to Normie:

    Spot on, Noah was the emotional leader of that team, the glue guy and likely the best basketball player of the bunch. No way they even make the final four, let alone win back to back titles without Noah.

    Noah's spirit, enthusiasm, his joy for life are the reasons that he is my favorite player, and the reason that I was thrilled that he dropped to us at #9.

    Thank god we didn't end up with another Mope a Dope like Spencer Hawes, whom I am sure Alex had in his top secret mock draft.

  • In reply to Normie:

    Give me a Joakim Noah interview over a can of mumbled cliches from Ben Gordon any and every day of the week.

  • Simply put, Alex is nothing more than an idiot!

  • I hate to rely on an old addage, but its true: "You can't teach size." He can't dribble, and it's almost comical watching him shoot...but he defends the rim, runs the floor, and rebounds on both ends.

    While I agree Durant and Horford are head and shoulders more effective ballplayers than Noah, the remaining names on your list are all as flawed as Noah...except Noah is 7 ft. tall.

    Oden - Strange to say, but may be a poor man's Noah.
    Young - A solid starter, but he is not an impact player on either end.
    Stuckey - He was given the keys, and he failed. Hello Ben Gordon.
    Fernandez - Energy guy off bench, but will he ever be a 30 minute guy? Doubtful on that team.
    Sessions - A top 20 PG. But I'm glad drafting Noah led the Bulls to be able to draft Rose. With Sessions in tow at the 2008 draft, they might now be stuck with Michael Winehouse Beasley.
    Green - See Young, Thaddeus.

    My point is, if you are picking from an equally imperfect lot of players, might as well take the guy whose head is closest to the rim.

    Plus he wears bowties. And that's always fun.

  • Noah's a great ball handler. He was a guard until he outgrew that position. Has great court vision and instincts. A great passer. Rebounds like crazy. What more do you want from a seven-footer?

  • In reply to Normie:

    Saying Noah is a great ball handler is like saying Brad Miller is a great 3 point shooer. In that he's not really, it just seems that way since most people their size can't do it at all.

    In fact, Miller is a much better ball-handler than Noah as well. And when I say ball-handler I do mean dribbling, but also passing. And while Noah is not a liability, he is certainly not a weapon from the post as a passer. Since he will never be a weapon as a scorer, it'd be nice to see him develop this part of his game to balance out the offense more effectively.

  • In reply to Normie:

    Sounds like Alex using a moniker. Dan, or whatever your real name is, if you question Noah's ball handling skill you are admitting to being a certified lunatic. Try something else.

  • In reply to Normie:

    Name-calling is often the first sign an opponent has admitted defeat.

    But just in case...

    According to Yahoo! NBA statistics, in 2008-2009 Noah was 21st in assists among all qualified Centers or Forwards who spent time at Center. He was also middle of the pack for his postion in terms of turnovers per 48 minutes. And since Noah isn't often bringing the ball up the court, I'm struggling to see where his dazzling ball handling skills - which are so apparent to you - manifest themselves in a game.

    If all statistical evidence points to him being an average passer and ball-handler, what are you basing your analysis on? Are you simply impressed he doesn't dribble the ball off his feet each posession?

    If you think Noah has 'unquestioned ball handling skill', I think it is time you set your expectations just a bit higher.

  • In reply to DanFrystak:

    Dribble the ball off his feet each posession? I thought that this post was about Noah not the dearly departed Ben Gordon.

    Ballhandling is not a skill that 7 footers are typically evaluated on. Noah is more than adequate as a dribbler, probably among the best at his position in the open court. He is very effective interior passer.

    The only ballhandling skill which he needs to develop would be as they relate to his post moves.

  • Doug you must be some kind of a saint, you continue to respond professionally to Alex's idiotic Noah and Hinrich rants.

    The guy has to be a certified member of the NERF boys site. People like Alex and posts like his are the reason I cannot stomach the NERF boys site.

    However, Alex does provide incontrovertible evidence that Global Warming is indeed a hoax. If we had genunine global warming, it would melt the block of ice encasing Alex's brain and allow some of your reasoned responses to sink in.

  • Great point, and you only found 8 guys in total that you would even consider ahead of Noah, who was taken 9th by the Bulls.

  • While the financial concerns may have been paramount, I think that management just didn't want he guy around anymore at virtually any price.

    That being said, I think that it has become apparent, that nobody on the Bulls will miss Gordon. The players have been polite about his absence, but nobody is shedding any tears.

    I believe that he was a silent cancer, an outgrowth of the Big Bum, Ben Wallace. I think that the guys are realy looking forward to playing without him, and playing for and with each other.

    I am expecting the Bulls to resemble the early Scott Skiles teams in terms of comraderie, and that team chemistry will add wins to out total this season rather than subtract wins as it did the past 2 seasons.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree with you that no one outwardly has seemed too broken up about Ben leaving, but the guys on the team are also pretty much team-speak guys so I don't know it means the disliked Ben. And they've had plenty of time to adjust to him not being here by now, as well, plus knowing he chose to leave and is getting paid handsomely. I never saw him as a cancer or anything, but also not a glue guy. There's a pretty big gap in between.

    I also imagine the guys are a little sick of getting asked about him, especially the ones who will be looked at to make up for his scoring. But I'm with you on liking this team and expecting that they'll have some serious chemistry out there. I'm pretty stoked for the season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Hi Bigway! I almost forgot about that malcontent Ben Gordon. This is a guy, when Noah joined the Bulls, used to give him a hard time. He's a small-minded piece of junk who was probably jealous of Noah's back-to-back championships, or probably his height.
    He seemed to appoint himself "Mr. Bull" and was a virtual blackhole whenever he handled the ball. John Paxson, to his credit, didn't make the mistake of giving "Mr. One Dimensional" a big contract and let him walk. He will bury Detroit with his selfishness and no defense.
    This Bulls team has players who like each other and this translates into a crucial ingredient known as chemistry. Gone are the Goodens and others of his ilk. This Bulls team will surprise a lot of people. The only fear I have is the clown of a head coach called Vinnie Del Negro. But I am sure Paxson will send him packing as soon as it's apparent that he's the one destroying a good thing.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Reality, the lazy No-Shot Noah is a weakling who used the entire off season to gain 5-6 pounds of muscle. Which is nothing for a guy his size. Tell us Dougie, how much can he squat?

    Joakim will be dominated in the paint again, with No-Shot guarding the middle, Perkins and Davis scored at will. That is reality. Garnett would have shreded this Florida fairy and the Bulls would have gone home early.......hoping and wishing does change the facts that this clown doesn't have any offensive skills and too lazt and weak to get position under the rim!!!!

    No-Shot had TWO (2) POINTS from the floor and the Bulls were out scored 46 to 18 in the paint and Garnett (The Celt's Jordan) did not play one second. Noah is a Joke and he we all saw his clown outfit.

    The truth is evident a 5-6 pound gain was probably due to indigestation. Joakim is too lazy to muscle up and he is as good as he will ever get, no matter how much Bulls PR Doug spews.

    When you don't have any facts or you are ignoring the evidence and all you can do is spew you are exposed as being dim witted or a Cub fan.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Alex, I am convinced you're GAY. That's the only way to explain your obsession with Noah.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Alex, seems you don't know when to quit. You've been exposed as a zealot and a fraud!Go back underground where you came from. Why this blog keeps publishing your trash has me befuddled!!!!!
    It's all ...I hate Noah....I hate Noah.... I hate Noah...
    Why? I think I have a good idea why, but I know they won't publish it. I tried, but the host of this blog got cold feet and didn't publish it.

  • In reply to Alex:

    My apology Doug. The alleged opinion piece I was referring to was published. I was guilty in not refreshing my page.
    Keep up the good work!

  • In reply to Alex:

    It really wasn't a mistery, but thanks for proving that you are a Sox fan, the Chicago equivalent of a Boston fan, or a Philly fan, or a Yankee fan. That pretty much explains everything.

  • In reply to Alex:

    The facts are simple to understand if you have a brain. Wishing and hoping does not make any Chicago team better.

    No-Shot Noah and the grossly over paid Clock Eating Slow Hinrich are not NBA starters.I never hated them just the fact that they were on the floor.

    Noah has proven to be lazy weak and winded. This year he put on 5-6 pounds which was probably do to being constipated. He has shown up two years in a row out of shape. He gets pushed around under the rim, he is to lazy to muscle up or get in NBA basketball shape.
    Being outscored in the paint 46-18 in the paint while scoring 2 pts from the floor is a joke. Those facts are hard for wishers and hopers to figure out.

    Cub fans, 10% of them someting about MLB but are bitter because they have to pay for the pitcher to bat! The rest are drunks from boys town.Bartman kept the "roid" filled Cubbies from winning. One cheating team like the Boston Roid Sox is enough.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Lunatic Alex, what do you eat for breakfast when you start the day?

  • In reply to Normie:

    Ok, Doug stop signing in as Boss. Where is your dignity? You are embarrassing yourself, stop it!

  • He also improved a lot from early season to late season. According to NBA.com, he was tied for 3rd among centers in assists/48, and tied for 4th in assists/game Post-All-Star break. He was also 3rd in A/TO post-break - not my favorite stat, but it does show he takes good care of the ball.

    Undoubtedly some of the early season stuff was due to Jo being out of shape, but I think we sometimes forget how lousy the offense was early on as well. It's not like I want Jo bringing the ball up or anything, but I definitely think his ball-handling toward the end of last season was a big plus.

  • In reply to clancy:

    That's a good point. I didn't really break it down as to improvement half over half. I would probably credit the arrival of Brad Miller as the greatest reason for this improvement in Noah's game. Miller is probably the only teammate Noah has routinely practiced against and learned from that is of similar size. Hopefully his game only continues to grow.

    But I will note to Doug - perhaps Vinny's offense doesn't cater to post passing because before Miller's arrival he was not confident that was a valid option.

  • You've spoken to James Johnson a couple times now, Doug. One thing that worries me, and I know they haven't played a game yet, is that he seems to be very eager to fit in and play a role. Do you get the sense that he has that 'killer instinct' that is said to be posessed by all the great players? I get the impression he is just as happy to carry the veterans' bags as he would be to get 40 minutes a night.

  • Can you elaborate on your comment about Johnson being a future role player? With his size and diversified skill set, he would seemingly have all the physical ingredients needed to become a star.

    And I know it was summer league, but he led all players in either minutes played or mpg (can't remember) so that leads me to believe Vinny and the staff are excited about his potential. Combined with Tyrus's inconsistency and the lack of depth at the 4, he would seemingly have a solid chance at receiving consistent minutes as a rookie.

    Plus you've made it abundantly clear you're a huge fan of his game.

    So what gives?

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