TSL BIG DANCE THROWBACK ATTACK:  Tourney Titans – Joakim Noah

Most hoop heads will tell you; the fact that Joakim Noah hasn’t won an NBA c’hip yet doesn’t really have anything to do with what the 6-foot-11 center’s game is lacking.

In fact, Noah’s adolescent life revolved around winning and exhibiting the heart of a champion. His pedigree is unquestionable as his dad Yannick Noah was one of the world’s most successful, recognizable and electric tennis players  and his grandpa was a dope pro soccer player.

Noah’s entire NBA game is built off of genetically-structured passion, competitiveness and an unwavering devotion and work ethic. Whereas contingents of NBA fans consider gunners like Carmelo Anthony a player “you can’t win an NBA c’hip with,” most cats feel the stars simply haven’t aligned right for Noah and Chicago yet, and it’s inevitable he will be an integral part of an NBA Championship squad before his career is over.

Why would fans have more confidence in Noah's eventual ascension to champion than they do in other ringless NBA giants?

Because the blue print of Noah’s career says so. During his high school days, Noah played for several schools including the United Nations International School, Poly Prep, and The Lawrenceville School. In his sophomore and junior seasons at Poly Prep, Noah led the team to back-to-back league championships, and in his senior year he led The Lawrenceville School to the New Jersey state title. In high school, Noah developed notoriety for being a physical player with a limitless motor. Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan tabbed Noah to man-the-middle for his talented recruiting class.

At Florida, he played a role similar to the one he has now with Chicago. Surrounded by more offensively-talented players, penetrators and bucket makers, the offense still found a way to run through him and he was a defensive renegade and the heart and soul of the Gators. 

After a quiet freshman year, Noah improved his game significantly, eventually leading the team in points with 14.2 points per game and in blocks with 2.4 blocks per game, while ranking second in rebounds with 7.1 rebounds per game. Florida defeated the UCLA Bruins 73–57 in the national final to win the school's first men's basketball NCAA Championship. After flushing the Bruins with 16 points, nine boards and a championship game record six blocks, Noah was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

Despite being touted as a lottery pick if he left after his sophomore season to enter the NBA Draft, Noah decided to return to school to hone his game and bag a second National Title. Noah’s game was still butter with a touch of hot sauce, and in his junior season Florida defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 84–75, to become the first team since the 1991–92 Duke Blue Devils to win back-to-back national championships That season, Noah won First Team All-SEC, as well as Second Team All-American honors. 

Noah’s always been that lunch pail, hard hat guy on the squad. He uses his Queens, NY grit and confidence to overachieve. His hustle game is already legendary.

Noah's ability to transform from a clownish, happy-go-lucky cat into a hardwood heat-seeking missile, willing to get dirty in the trenches is unique to him. 

But don’t get it twisted, when he needs to expand his offensive game or facilitate with his deft passing, he's more than capable. Noah is the one constant that every championship squad needs. A glue guy. When the shooters are streaking off, when the guards are turning the ball over and succumbing to pressure, when the high-flying dunk masters have been grounded, Noah’s offerings to the game remain the same.

Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey will be compared to the great college basketball starting lineups of all-time. Horford and Brewer have gone on to be solid NBA players. Noah has blossomed into an All-Star.

“I think I was fortunate enough to coach a group of guys that has to go down in history as one of the greatest teams of all time,” Florida Coach Billy Donovan said in 2007.

Noah decided to declare for the 2007 NBA Draft and was selected by Chicago with the ninth overall pick. Eight years later he’s the same focused, alpha-male competitor; thirsty, unrelenting and on a championship hunt. If his past is any indication of what the future holds, Noah will get there eventually. You put the right pieces around him and he will be that stalwart catalyst for any well-oiled championship machine. His Tourney Titan status with the Gators proved that much.

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