Jan 4, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) signs an autograph prior to a game against the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Joakim Noah Needs To Step Up For The Chicago Bulls

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It was hard on everyone in Chicago when the Bulls announced last Monday that the team traded forward Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Perhaps no one took it harder than Bulls center Joakim Noah.

In the days after the Deng trade, Chicago has heard from president of basketball operations John Paxson and head coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau, for obvious reasons, did not agree with the organization’s decision to trade Deng.

Thibodeau was not the only one.

In fact, most of the Bulls players disagreed with the decision to trade Deng. That sentiment has been echoed when Bulls players spoke with the media this past week. Noah has yet to speak with the media since the Deng trade was finalized on Monday. For the Bulls center, the silence is deafening. Noah, who has never shied away from a headline with his comments, has made headlines this week for his silence.

Its clear that there was a brotherhood among Deng, Noah, and Derrick Rose. After all, Rose was the first–or at lease his camp–to publicly speak against the Bulls desire to trade Deng. Noah presumably shared the same sentiment. The brotherhood between Deng, Noah, and Rose may be no longer in tact; but Noah and Rose must move on.

In the coming weeks, the onus will be on Noah to replace Deng in the locker room. Deng was the leader for the Bulls both on and off the court. Noah has shown the potential to be the leader for the Bulls on the court with his emotionally charged play, but the Bulls center now needs to be the emotional leader for the Bulls off the court. A role that does not see the player go mute if the organization makes a decision that they do not agree with.

The loss of Deng was certainly hard on Noah, but the Bulls center needs to emerge as the new leader of the team.

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