Joakim Noah(notes) is a terriffic defender, one of the league's top rebounders, and a limited offensive player. Those skills (or lack thereof) put him in the company of another former Bulls great, Dennis Rodman.
The Worm was a controversial figure during his playing days, but no one who watched him can deny that the man was as good a rebounder and defender as anyone in his era. Noah recognizes these facts, thankfully, and appreciates Rodman's career. Noah told Jonathan Santiago of SLAM Online that the two recently had the opportunity to meet:
According to Noah, he met the two-time All-Star at an unspecified night club and told him how big of a fan he was. Rodman, likewise, returned mutual admiration.
"I just saw him in the club and I just showed him love and he showed me love," Noah responded. " It was cool, you know?" The current Bulls power forward spoke reverently of his predecessor:
"I've nothing but good things to say about that guy. You know, I'm a big fan of his. I feel like, you know, somebody whose basketball skills are so underrated just because of all the other things. Just because he was kind of out there, in people's eyes, people kind of forget how much he affected the game. I mean, he was a champion you know? I think people kind of forget that. The guy was the definition of hustle and affecting the game without scoring. He scored a little bit, but not really. I mean the guy just affected the game so much with his defense and his rebounding. And he kind of made that cool, to me anyways."
I don't like the sound of "unspecified night club" when it involves Rodman, but let's assume that Noah was raised well. For proof, just note that Noah later claims he wasn't a big fan of Rodman growing up, which suggests his parents didn't let him idolize a cross-dressing weirdo. See, Europeans have family values, too!
Rodman is defined so much by his personality these days that it's easy to forget what made him worth paying attention to in the first place. On the basketball court, he was a tireless worker and an instrumental part of five championship teams. It's a terrible oversight that he's not yet in the Hall of Fame, and something tells me the snub is because of the person rather than the athlete. Or perhaps it's just the Hall of Fame's relative lack of respect for NBA players.
Noah is doing important work here. By describing Rodman as a basketball player rather than a dude who once wore a wedding dress to a book signing, he's putting the emphasis back on The Worm's considerable and substantive legacy on the court. Remember Rodman fondly, for he was wonderful to watch.