By Henry Abbott
Yesterday I made the case that he has to be considered an All-Star candidate, so it's not like I don't appreciate Joakim Noah's skills as a basketball player.
But he's off the charts when it comes to cheerleading.
You have probably heard about Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey eating his own column, with salsa.
When Noah was drafted, Morrissey wrote a column called "You Must Be Joakim" predicting Noah would be a bust, and promising to eat his column, with salsa, if Noah turned into a good NBA player.
When I finally saw the video, one thing stands out: Joakim Noah is not only there watching, but he's up out of his chair, cheering and dancing!
After Morrissey's droning preamble, in which he doesn't really admit he was wrong, but instead asks Noah about how he got so dramatically better (as if nobody could have possibly foreseen this two-time NCAA champion succeeding -- let the record reflect that when Noah was selected, David Thorpe said the Bulls would win a championship with Noah), it gets to eating time.
Noah claps his hands together, shouting "NOW WE'RE EATING THE SALSA! NOW THE GOOD PART!"
Indeed, because of Noah's energy, this is the good part.
As Morrissey gets to eating, Noah dances around behind him, chanting "eat it up, eat it up, eat it up, eat it up."
When it's all over, Noah says "Good job Rick. Good job. You did good. You did the right thing."
This is example #6,572 of Joakim Noah breathing life into the room. The man is excessively full of life. That's the key to his game and his winning, too. He's flooding the zone with energy and positivity. He's cheering for people, even his staunchest detractor in Rick Morrissey. Not for one minute of his NBA career has he ever failed for lack of effort, energy or hustle.
At the end of the video, when Noah pumps his fists in the air and says "stop hating" it's not an empty phrase. It's what Noah has been doing all along: Filling the room with love. Can that energy be the foundation of a winning team? It was for Florida, and the Bulls seem to be getting to the point where they're feeding on it, too.