After the Bulls dealt forward Luol Deng to Cleveland, for what was basically a salary dump â€” since they immediately released Andrew Bynum to avoid paying the back-half $6 million option on his deal, people thought it was time to tank in Chicago. After a prolonged silence, Bulls center Joakim Noah is finally talking to the media again, and he made it clear the Bulls are trying to win after their triple OT victory against the Magic on Wednesday night, and they’re using the movie, Major League to help motivate themselves.
Here’s what Noah said after the game, via ESPN Chicago:
“What do I say to those fans?” Noah told ESPNChicago.com after the Bulls’ 128-125 triple overtime victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. “I don’t say nothing to those fans. It’s all good. You’re allowed to have your opinion. It’s just … that’s not a real fan to me. You know what I’m saying? You want your team to lose? What is that? But it’s all good.”
“Do you really think we talk about it?” Noah said. “No way, man. No way. We don’t talk about those things. It’s like it’s so far from our reality. You know what I mean? We play for a coach [Tom Thibodeau] that’s … it’s difficult. It’s difficult every day. We grind hard every day, and we give it our best effort every day. You know we’re playing Orlando, they’re down three guys — we’re fighting.
“It’s different to have an opinion when you’re like watching it from your couch compared to when you’re out living it every day.”
If anyone thought the Bulls were going to lay down and pray for lottery luck this summer, they obviously don’t know the hyper-competitive Noah (who won back-to-back NCAA titles while at Florida) and the equally as intense coach, Tom Thibodeau.
In fact, according to Taj Gibson, the Bulls are using the surrounding gloom after the trade as a motivational tactic, similar to the movie, Major League, where the team’s ownership was hoping they’d finish in the cellar.
Gibson said the team has begun to view their situation like that of the fictional version of the Cleveland Indians in the movie “Major League.” In the movie, the team’s owner decides to make the organization as bad as it can possibly be to relocate it. The Bulls’ situation is not as dire, but Gibson sees parallels.
“We understand it’s kind of like the movie ‘Major League,'” Gibson said. “We’ve got that mentality where we believe in the locker room. We believe in what we think. And we’re taking it one game at a time and we’re trying to get those wins hopefully to see … get a good nice poster at the end of the year.”
In the movie, the players put together a cutout of the owner’s body with the caption: “You guys stink!” After each win they pealed off a section of the cutout.
So who will be on the cutout for the Bulls?
“We haven’t figured that out yet,” Gibson said with a smile. “But that’s kind of the way we’re going at it. That’s what Joakim started, Joakim said it, and I’ve just been running with it. Every game is like a test and we’re fighting.”
Noah declined to mention the Major League tie-in, but Gibson reiterated what we’ve always said since the Chicago-Cleveland trade went through: Tom Thibodeau will not allow tanking to infiltrate the team, just like we saw last year with Rose out for the season. Said Gibson:
“Thibs is, every day he’s coming in he’s kind of shocked and at the same time he’s so proud,” Gibson said. “Because he’s like, ‘I believe in what we have, and I’m so proud of you guys. You already keep shocking me every time you step on the court. And I think we got enough, it’s going to be a special year and we’ve just got to keep digging.’ ”
This warms our heart. Keep fighting Chicago, you got a lot of fans outside of the Windy City rooting for you now â€” just like those lovable Cleveland Indians in the terrific Major League.
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @countcenci.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.