CHICAGO -- A year ago at this time, Joakim Noah had missed 30 of the Chicago Bulls' first 54 games of the season with a thumb injury serious enough to require surgery. He had played just nine games with new frontcourt teammate Carlos Boozer. And the Bulls were a team that had not yet come to grips with its potential.
In February of 2011, the MVP chants were just starting up at the United Center. And Derrick Rose, fresh off a fiery pregame pep talk by coach Tom Thibodeau to be more aggressive and allow his teammates to follow, took the microphone before that night's game against the league-leading San Antonio Spurs and thanked fans for helping give Chicago its first All-Star Game starter since Michael Jordan in 1998.