Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The Bulls center says that he took it to heart when 76ers cheered his injury in last year's playoffs.
The Chicago Bulls defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 96-89, on Wednesday night behind another huge game from center Joakim Noah, who put up 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the road victory. After the game, Noah told reporters that he was motivated by Sixers fans who cheered his ankle injury in last year's playoffs.
Via ESPN Chicago:
"I've been thinking about it all summer," Noah said. "All summer I just couldn't wait to come back here. I just felt like when I went down last year just people cheering and stuff, I felt like that was real disrespectful and it was definitely motivating for me to work even harder to work in the summer."
Noah also vowed that this wasn't the last the Sixers fans will see of him in this mode.
"And I'm going to do it for the rest of my career," Noah said. "Every time I come here."
Noah's teammate Jimmy Butler told reporters that tonight was personal for Noah, who has long been the heart and soul of this Bulls team. The Bulls, of course, fell in the first round of the playoffs last season after Derrick Rose tore his ACL and Noah severely sprained his ankle.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said that he was personally happy to see Noah respond after a poor game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. Noah has continued to put together an All-Star worthy season, averaging 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He's also putting up a PER of 18.27, which is a slight downtick from last season but still one of the top numbers amongst centers in the Eastern Conference.