New Chicago Bulls center Paul Gasol gives credit to Joakim Noah for becoming a new member of the team.
Pau Gasol Gives Credit to Joakim Noah for Joining Chicago Bulls
“When Joakim Noah flew with Bulls brass to Los Angeles to recruit free agent Pau Gasol, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year thought the Bulls had no shot of landing the 7-footer.
“Why not? Well, have you experienced a Chicago winter?
“‘Because it’s freezing out here,’ Noah said when asked why he thought the Bulls wouldn’t land Gasol. ‘I think the last time he was here it was that polar, arctic thing. The polar vortex thing going on. It’s brutal.
“‘So when you’re used to the beach every day, to pick the polar vortex says a lot.’
“Noah was referencing a Jan. 20 tilt at the United Center between the Bulls and Lakers. And though the weather on the day of the game, per accuweather.com, was a balmy 37 degrees, the rest of the week saw lows in the single-digits, including two days in below-zero weather.
“Gasol, a native of Spain, has played his entire NBA career in the warm weather, spending his first seven seasons with Memphis and his last seven with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“But this offseason Gasol traded in his flip-flops for snow boots, saying at Monday’s media day that Noah’s involvement in the recruiting process was a key factor in him deciding on the Windy City.
“(Noah’s) a very outgoing guy, very forward. He doesn’t sugarcoat much, which I appreciate,’ Gasol said. ‘He also told me that he was, as well as the rest of the team, extremely hungry, which I wanted to perceive, I wanted to hear.’
“Much of the talk this past offseason involved players deciding on money or a better shot at a title. And after the Bulls missed out on Carmelo Anthony, who accepted a five-year, $124 million offer from the (New York) Knicks, Noah appreciated that Gasol stood by his word of wanting to still compete and bypassing potentially more lucrative offers to join the Bulls (and accept the harsh winters).
“‘I just thought there was no way we were going to get him, but I think it just says a lot about him as a player, about his mindset,’ Noah said at Wednesday’s training camp. ‘And I think he’s a huge addition to this team and to get where we want to, everybody’s going to have to play at a high level. And its’ really exciting to have a player of his caliber here that we can learn from and a guy who’s really going to affect the game.’
“Gasol also spoke on the ‘new chapter’ of his career, noting that Chicago was ‘a great opportunity for me as well to add to a great team.’
“‘The change of scenery and being in a position where I feel like we have a great opportunity here,’ Gasol answered when asked why he feels a sense of refreshment to Chicago. ‘That’s refreshing, and seeing everyone’s excitement is really refreshing.’
“His new scenery will also include bitter wind chills and lots of snow, but the two-time NBA champion seems ready for the task.”
— NBA (@NBA) September 30, 2014
Gasol’s addition as well as those of Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott should further boost the Bulls’ title aspirations now that 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose is back, notes The Chicago Sun Times’ Joe Cowley:
“With media day Monday heralding the start of training camp, every Derrick Rose jump shot, dribble, quote and ice pack soon will be scrutinized.
“The additions of Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic and the subtraction of Carlos Boozer are all well and good, but this boat sinks or sails into the Eastern Conference Finals because of Rose.
“Two season-ending knee surgeries since the 2012 playoffs, however have raised questions about Rose’s ability to even be around in May.
“A better supporting cast puts even more pressure on Rose, who says he has never been surrounded with as much talent.
“‘I have that sense they went for it,’ Rose said of the front office in late July. ‘They gave it their all, we got who we could get, who wanted to come, and that’s who we have to ride with. I think (this Bulls team will be) the most talented team I’ve played on in my NBA career, to tell you the truth.
“‘We have one goal.’
“Maybe, but Rose should have at least a handful. The first and most important goal should be staying healthy.
“The rest will take care of itself.”
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Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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