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  • Brendan Smart

The Other Guys: Joakim Noah

New York Post

Joakim Noah’s career hasn’t been pretty, but it has been fun to watch. Outside of his two seasons with the New York Knicks – Noah has had a really great and unique career. After missing the playoffs in his rookie year in Chicago, he made the postseason every year until his last in the Windy City. Those Chicago Bulls -- who included Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng – took on the personality of their snarling, wild-haired talisman: they never played beautiful basketball, but you could place money on the Bulls fighting to the bitter end.

That persistence, coupled with his delight in playing the agitator incurred the wrath of many fans: Cleveland fans will likely never forget “You think Cleveland’s cool? I’ve never heard anybody say I’m going to Cleveland on vacation.” But even those who hate him can’t disparage his effort and genuine love for the game. He plays like we like to think we would play if we made an NBA paycheck -- diving on the floor, no matter the score, and never forgetting how thankful we are to play the game of basketball.

A two time all-star, and the 2012-2013 Defensive Player of the Year, Noah has prided himself on heart, hustle, and overall love for the game. Though his final year in Chicago ended in injury and ignominy, his past accolades made Noah a rather popular player in the summer of 2016. But the $72 million dollar, four-year contract looked like a mistake as soon as he put pen to paper, and Noah played only 53 of a potential 328 games on Broadway. It’s an understatement to say that Noah didn’t work out in New York.

Failing so dismally, Noah seemed likely to hang up those sneakers and make his haters smile in glee, but he wasn’t going out like that. While we weren’t looking, Noah stopped his descent from ‘Rugged Defensive Centerpiece’ to ‘Overpaid Injury Report’ and remade himself as ‘Valuable Veteran Presence.’

The thing about Noah is that he doesn’t put up ridiculous numbers every night, but he consistently gives the team a work ethic to follow. If he is on the bench, you can look for Noah leading the bench mob when celebrating a monster dunk. If he is on the floor, a jumper is more rare than a good, hard screen or the proper rotation on defense. Noah is steadfast in his nightly approach to the game, with the same energy of his youth and prime.

In this lost season in Memphis, following the departure of Gasol and the near-trade of Conley, Noah has been one of the lone bright spots. With the team embarking on a total rebuild, though, the RenNoahssaince seems almost wasted. There are a few contenders who would benefit from his infectious positivity; Grizzly fans would wish him well.

Noah is playing some great basketball and is worth a watch on NBA League Pass; you’ll remember what a great player he was not too long ago. When most of the league closed the door on his career, he kicked it back open and said ‘I still got it.’

It turns out he does.

#NBA #Grizzlies #BrendanSmart

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