CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls just won't be the same.
Joakim Noah, the fierce big man whose ugly, all-out play defined the Bulls for the better part of a decade, has signed with the New York Knicks. The two-time NBA All-Star was expected to sign a four-year, $72 million contract with the New York Knicks, ESPN reported late Thursday.
Noah took to Instagram to make his signing official Friday afternoon:
Noah is joining his friend and former Bull Derrick Rose in New York after telling teammates in May he planned to leave Chicago this summer.
Noah, who rocked a man bun before it was cool and proudly wears hippie clothes, is widely credited as the player who most gave the Bulls a team identity following their championship runs of the '90s. A center who couldn't score, Noah built his game around ferocious defense, rebounding and an affinity for bounce passes from the top of the key instead.
Can't touch this.
Noah, a New Yorker who won two college championships at Florida, was drafted by the Bulls in 2007 and has played his entire career in Chicago. He once carried a Derrick Rose-less Bulls team to the playoffs in 2014 and won First Team All-NBA honors and the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award along the way.
A depressed David Matthews reflects on Joakim Noah.
But the Bulls got a new coach last year who opted to bring Noah off the bench. Noah struggled in the new role, then injured his shoulder and watched as the Bulls missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Noah, whose Bulls contract has since expired, reportedly told teammates in May he had "no trust in the front office getting this [team] in the right direction," an unnamed Bulls player told the Sun-Times then.
Though Noah is leaving Chicago, Bulls fans will always have memories of his stay here. Here are our favorite memories of Noah, the gap toothed warrior who's known just as much by Chicagoans for his charitable work and wacky mode de vie as his brutalizing style of play:
1.) 'Cleveland sucks'
Noah has always worn his emotions on his sleeve, and at times — like when he openly disparaged a fellow Great Lakes Metropolis and home of one of the Bulls' strongest conference rivals — he's been criticized for it. The reporters at this press conference weren't ready for this realness.
2.) Dunking on Paul Pierce's head
Noah wasn't always a fan favorite. Many Bulls fans decried his arrival to the team, and local sports columnist Rick Morrissey wrote in 2007 that he would eat his critical column of Noah with salsa if he developed into a "useful player." Early in his career, Noah wasn't.
But this slam during a critical moment in the 2009 playoffs against the Boston Celtics was when even Noah said "everything changed." Morrissey ate his column a la salsa that fall.
3.) 'Rock Your Drop' and other charity work
The son of a professional tennis star and a model, Noah was born into privilege. But he used his position as an NBA star to try and make Chicago a better place. His foundation, Noah's Arc, has worked with local youth for years, and Noah himself has brokered "peace" basketball tournaments on the city's South and West sides.
Last year, he launched the "Rock Your Drop" campaign, which sells teardrop pendants designed by his mother to raise money for anti-violence efforts here and elsewhere. Noah won the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2015.
Despite Noah's move to New York, his foundation will reportedly remain based in Chicago.
4.) That Time He Crashed A Random House Party
Joakim and his Misericordia cookies. [Facebook/Misericordia]
If you think a multi-millionaire NBA player would be above crashing your friend's barbeque and slow dancing to Jock Jams, you're thinking wrong about Joakim Noah.
5.) Going Hard For The Fans
Noah didn't speak to the media for a week after the Bulls traded his friend and teammate Luol Deng in 2014. When he finally did, he made it clear to Chicagoans that the Bulls were going to keep fighting to make the playoffs and not "tank" for a better draft pick while he was still playing. Noah would go on to have the best season of his career despite the absences of Rose and Deng.
"We just want to represent," Noah said then. "We know this is a city that ... even when I come to the game, I see the guy selling the newspapers on the streets. [It's] cold outside -- when he sees me driving by, he's excited. You know what I mean? He's excited. He's like, 'All right. Let's go Bulls! Get it done tonight!' I feel like I play for that guy. Like when I look at the top of the arena, and I look up top and I see teams call timeout, and I see the guy who looks this big and he's up cheering up and down, jumping up and down, that's the guy I play for. To me, that's what this city represents. There's a lot of hardship in here, a lot of adversity in this city, and I feel like when I play basketball I want people to be proud of their team."
With Noah gone, who will keep Bulls fans proud next season?
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