Joakim Noah remains unbowed if not bloodied. In a season where Derrick Rose again suffered a season-ending knee injury early on and the team moved to deal veteran forward Luol Deng, Noah’s vision and optimism remains unchanged.
‘‘My ultimate goal is to win a championship,’’ Noah told the Chicago Sun-Times while in New Orleans to take part in his second All-Star Game. ‘‘I believe we’re going to win a championship in Chicago — and I want to win it with Derrick Rose. I’m going to do everything I can to put us in a position to play in those big games. And when our time will come, whenever that is, it’ll be the best party in the world.’’
In the meantime, the 28-year-old, seven-year veteran won’t change or allow his team to change who they’ve always prided themselves on being.
‘‘I think we’re the hardest-working team in the NBA, on the court or off the court,” Noah added. “The way we practice. The way we carry ourselves. I’m proud that we have that identity — when you play the Chicago Bulls, we’re crackin’. We’re going to the offensive glass every time. We’re playing defense. We’re the first to the floor. I’m proud to be a part of that.’’
It’s a style that’s turning Noah into a perennial All-Star, though he remains as shocked as anyone by the development.
“I can’t believe it,” he added. “All this hard work since I was a little kid, to be able to say that I’ve been to the All-Star Game… I used to be a ballboy for a lot of these guys here. Now, to compete against these guys and be a part of All-Star Games, it’s just something I can’t take for granted ever.”
But Joakim Noah wants more for himself and his team. ‘‘I know I wouldn’t be here without my teammates,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m a guy who scores off opportunities. You look at the play of Taj Gibson, D.J. Augustin, Kirk Hinrich, Carlos Boozer coming back from his injury to give us huge minutes. Just everybody — the whole team. Even Derrick — just seeing how he’s approaching his rehab. Really killing it. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Even with Rose again ailing, Noah senses the impact the youngest MVP in league history still has on the team and organization.
‘‘Derrick’s voice means so much to our team,’’ he said. ‘‘When I see him talking to Jimmy Butler during a game . . . or Tony Snell it just gives me confidence. He has that much impact. He’s our star player. And he’s a good dude. That’s why it was hard to see him go down again. But he’s a warrior. He never lets up, and I think the way he’s working right now, it makes me hungrier that I know our time will come.’’