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Luol Deng and Joakim Noah really want to win tonight’s Bulls-Cavaliers game

Jan 22, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

Luol Deng, Joakim Noah AP

Luol Deng initially tried to dismiss first matchup against his former team – Bulls-Cavaliers at 7 p.m. tonight – as just another game.

Eventually, he got into the spirit, though.

Deng, via Mary Schmitt Boyer of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer:

“I’m sure they’re going to go after me as guys that I’m close with, friends,” he said. “But when the ball goes up there’s going to be nothing better for them than to beat me and vice versa. I can’t wait to beat them. So it will be interesting. It’s a game that definitely whoever wins … you’re going to be hearing from whoever wins a lot.”

Joakim Noah didn’t sound like he needed any prodding to get up for this game. Via Bryan Crawford of NBC Chicago:

‘‘It will probably be weird,” Joakim Noah said. “It will probably be strange, but I still want to kick his ass. I love Luol. He’s my brother. But when that ball goes up, he’s not going to be my brother.”

A January matchup between 20-20 and 15-26 teams doesn’t exactly inspire the most interest. I guess, in this Eastern Conference, there are playoff implications, but that’s hardly a reason to watch this game over, say, Dallas-Toronto, which is on at the same time.

But Deng facing his former team – and all the passion that goes with it – is plenty of reason to tune in.

Noah was obviously hurt when Chicago traded Deng, and Deng had to feel scorned when the Bulls didn’t offer him a big enough extension to ink him. These two can channel some bad feelings to motivate themselves.

But they can also channel good times. Deng was in just fourth season when Noah was a rookie. In many ways, they grew up together as they helped the Bulls rise in the Eastern Conference.

However Deng and Noah handle tonight, as long as they treat it as the special occasion it is, it will be worth watching the emotions unfold before, during and after the game. The NBA and sports are about drama, and this one offers plenty.

  1. cbking05 - Jan 22, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    I smell a Magic/Isiah cheek kiss before tip off

  2. musketmaniac - Jan 22, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    they’re sure in the hell not going to duke it out. that might be worth the price of admission. doubt the game will

  3. belleby123 - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    I thought Deng hugging guys on the Bulls’ bench was really touching. He should have been able to retire a Bull. Reinsdorf continues to run both the Bulls and the White Sox as small market teams. And some people think he’s actually a good owner. He reminds me of Ditka’s description of George Halas: “He throws nickels around like they were manhole covers.”
    P.S. Keep D.J. Augustine and send D. Rose to the D League if he’s ever healthy enough to play. At some point I expect D. Rose to refer to Greg Oden as a “showoff”.

    • blueintown - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      Both the Bulls and the White Sox are consistently near the top ten in payroll in their respective leagues.

      As an owner, his organizations have won eleven world championships. I’d say he qualifies as a “good” owner.

      Ditka said that as a joke at a banquet. He said so himself.

      You think this “cheap” owner should send his $93m dollar player, an unprecedented contract for a player that age in the history of basketball, to the D-League.

      You’re full of great ideas.

      • blueintown - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        Edit: Seven world championships. I stand corrected. He must be a failure.

      • blueintown - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        Edit 2: in or near the top ten in payroll
        Edit 3: $94m. Cheapskate.

      • belleby123 - Jan 23, 2014 at 5:00 PM

        In the top 10–wow! How many White Sox payrolls would it take to equal the Yankees? Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S.–my math says they should be in the top 3. And if you can’t keep MJ and Phil Jackson on your staff how good are you, really?

        Nice try, though.

      • belleby123 - Jan 23, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        Vis a vis Papa George Halas: he was so cheap he used to complain that planes flying in to Meigs Field could see the games for free. And *he* wasn’t joking.

      • blueintown - Jan 23, 2014 at 5:42 PM

        I’m pretty sure you don’t understand ‘vis-a-vis’, so I’ll just leave that one alone.

        Regarding payroll: Who cares? No one spends as much as the Yankees. He’ll pay good players, and won’t pay bad ones. Again, seven world championships as an owner. He paid M.J. more than any athlete has made in a single season in the history of sports. Twice.

  4. belleby123 - Jan 24, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Per Merriam-Webster online: ‘vis a vis” 2. In relation to. Is your excuse going to be that you have trouble with the English language? As for championships: if you think the championships were more about Reinsdorf than about MJ, you need to have your head examined. And the White Sox? One World Series in 30 plus years of ownership? Wow! He runs both teams as small market teams. Before being a sports team owner he was a CPA that worked for the IRS. What does that tell you?

    • blueintown - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      My point was you lacked context; are you insinuating Ditka said that about Meigs Field, is it some anecdotal yarn you’re just regurgitating, or is it just some stupid line you made up? Regardless, Ditka was joking when he said that about Halas. Here, take his word for it:

      And just so I’m clear…the man who writes the checks and hires the people to assemble the team apparently has no bearing on what type of product he puts out there? Is that what you’re saying? You prefer to judge an owner strictly on the amount of his teams payroll? So you must be a big Knicks fan, right? Or a big Lions fan?

      You strike me as the type of guy who fancies himself a blue-collar, tough-minded Chicagoan but lives in his parents basement in Naperville, amiright?

      • belleby123 - Jan 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        Your point is I lack context? Your last point was that I didn’t know what “vis a vis” meant. Aren’t you going to admit to your mistake? I guess not. And Dikta didn’t say anything about Meigs Field. I have heard multiple people attribute that complaint to George Halas. It sounds rather specific to be made up, but I suppose it could be. It doesn’t matter, he was known to be cheap. That’s the only point. And you bring up the Lions–amazing. A team in a city that went bankrupt is willing to pay big money. But Chicago teams owned by Jerry Reinsdorf have payrolls and personnel that make them look like the Tampa Bay Rays. I’ll just keep on saying the same thing: they are large market teams that are run like they are in a small market. In the case of the White Sox the fans are never going to show up unless they put a good team on the field, in the case of the Bulls the fans just aren’t getting their money’s worth, after suffering through Scott Skyles and Vinnie Del Negro teams. Now we have one of the best coaches, but the personnel he’s given to work with has gotten continuously worse since he’s been here. There is no excuse. And please, I live with my parents? Really? I left home 25 years ago. Let’s hear your life story, genius.

      • blueintown - Jan 27, 2014 at 9:19 AM

        2013 team payrolls-

        Chicago White Sox: $127,065,277
        Tampa Bay Rays: $57,030,272

        2013 team wins-
        Chicago White Sox: 63
        Tampa Bay Rays: 92

        The Detroit Lions aren’t “amazing”. They spent more money than any team in the NFL to win seven games. On what planet is that considered “amazing”?

        If you want to contend Jerry Reinsdorf has made bad decisions in the personnel department, then fine; I don’t totally agree, but at least there are some facts to back up that assertion. The Bulls will pay a premium price for a championship level squad, just as they have before. This Bulls roster isn’t at that level. Additionally, paying Deng is excess of $12-15m a year would have actively inhibited their ability to achieve championship level talent. It’s nice to believe that winning a championship is simply a matter of writing a check for a billion dollars, but that is simply not the case.

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