Joakim Noah feels Cleveland's pain

CLEVELAND -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah understands the pain Cleveland Cavaliers fans are going through after LeBron James' departure over the summer.

Noah doesn't believe James handled the free agency process the best he could.

"Do I think it was right? No," Noah told ESPNChicago.com before the Bulls took on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. "But at the end of the day, he's a grown man, and he does what he wants to do. There's only one person who could have done it as big as he did and that's him, so I think everybody in America kind of didn't feel it was the right way, the way he did it.

"The way he did it wasn't the right way, but at the end of the day he lives with it every day and he seems pretty happy in Miami so at the end of the day, it's his decision. Do I agree with it? Do people agree with it? No, but they're not him."

Noah, who had his own issues with Cavs fans during last year's playoffs after he made derogatory comments about Cleveland, doesn't understand why Cavs fans chose to invoke Bulls legend Scottie Pippen in chants to taunt James when his Miami Heat returned to Cleveland on Dec. 2.

"[James] made his decision and the fans got to let it out a little bit the other night," Noah said. "I really didn't understand the Scottie Pippen chants. I feel like you prepare five months to bash somebody and try to make it tough on him and you come up with Scottie Pippen chants?

"I understand what they're trying to say, but he's still somebody who won six rings and is a Hall of Famer, so I think they could have been a little bit more creative."

Having said that, Noah gets why the fans continue holding such a grudge toward James.

"It makes complete sense," Noah said. "I think fans over here were pretty embarrassed with the way things were handled. I think it makes sense, but [James] knew that. He had to know that, in doing what he did."

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose doesn't think he would be able to draw out the free agency process the way James did.

"To each his own," Rose said. "He waited, he loved being recruited, and I think I couldn't do anything like that."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.