Joakim Noah is leaving Chicago to go to the Knicks next season, but the former All-Star will likely always have a soft spot in his heart for the Windy City. Noah spent the first nine years of his NBA career in Chicago, and he made sure to take the time out to tell the fans how much they meant to him in a recent letter in The Chicago Tribune.
It reads in part:
I moved here nine years ago and quickly got an understanding of what the city was about. Hard work. No nonsense. Grind. Loyalty. Passion. I wanted to represent those qualities every time I stepped onto the court and competed for the Bulls.
Thank you to every teammate I battled with. We won and we lost, but I have love and respect for every single one of you. One day this basketball journey will be over and all we will have are memories. The best times in my life took place on the United Center floor. You are all my brothers.
Noah also commented on the fact that he is still committed to helping the city that is “home for the rest of my life” by making it a safer place.
On the Bulls side of things, they also took the time out to thank Noah for all he did with the organization and the city of Chicago. Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said that Noah will “always be a Bull.”
“You cannot measure the impact Joakim made on our team and the City of Chicago over the last nine years. His concern, commitment and compassion were always on display. He is loved by all in our organization and he will always be a Bull. We want to thank Joakim for his countless contributions to our organization and the city of Chicago, both on and off the court, and we wish him nothing but the best as he begins a new chapter.”
Bulls VP of Operations John Paxson made sure to highlight Noah’s off-court efforts for the city as much as his contributions on the court.
When we drafted Joakim in 2007, we knew that we were getting a kid with a strong spirit, was a hard worker and was a proven winner. What we didn’t know was the impact that he would make on our organization and the City of Chicago. He worked incredibly hard and eventually became the pulse of our team. Joakim has not only meant a lot to our entire organization and our city, but also to me personally. In this day and age in the NBA, it is rare where you come across a player as genuine, compassionate and real as Jo. The time and energy that he and his family put into his Foundation while he was here in Chicago speaks to the type of human being that he is. On behalf of the Chicago Bulls, I want to thank Joakim for everything that he did for us and I wish him the best as he moves on.”
Although Noah never led the Bulls to a Finals appearance, he was a key member of some great Bulls teams that made deep playoff runs, and he had some tremendous individual accomplishments as well in a Bulls uniform.
Noah is sometimes a lightning rod for controversy, but as these statements show, he truly made an effort to do all he could with his status to help the city that drafted him, and he will be missed in Chicago even more off the court than he will on it.