Joakim Noah finally broke his silence on the Luol Deng trade, saying he feels he lost a brother when the Chicago Bulls dealt his teammate to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Noah had been silent for days since the trade, violating NBA policy by failing to speak to the media while reports said he was seething inside the Bulls locker room.
After the Bulls 103-97 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, Joakim Noah opened up for the first time publicly about his teammate leaving.
“It’s hard to say because at the end of the day that’s my brother,” Noah told ESPN Chicago. “And he’s not here anymore. That’s the way I see it. They see the game differently. They’re not out there on the court. They’re not out there on the plane. They don’t know how much Lu meant to me personally. But I’m not mad at anybody. At the end of the day, the games keep coming — we’re just going to go out there, give it everything we got. There’s no tanking.”
Noah’s teammates have also spoken about the downturn in the locker room after the Deng trade.
“Quite frankly, everybody’s down,” said Carlos Boozer. “I don’t know how else to put it. Everybody’s in a tough spot. We’re short a man right now, just lost one of our best players. Not even that, one of our brothers.”
But they still have faith in Noah, even as he sulked about the trade.
“Joakim is an emotional guy,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s good. It’s also what drives him. You don’t want to take that away from him. He’s fine. He’s close to Luol. When you play with anyone for a long time, you develop a closeness. Joakim responded, he got himself together and was ready to go.”
The Bulls have certainly responded, winning three straight games since Luol Deng was traded. In Saturday’s win, Joakim Noah had 19 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks.