CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Michael Jordan may be the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, but clearly he still holds a special place in his heart for the Chicago Bulls.
That was evident after the Bulls clinched the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a win over his Bobcats on Wednesday night. He walked into the Bulls locker after the game and offered congratulations to some of the players and coaches.
He bear hugged former teammate Randy Brown and gave embattled Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro a few kind words.
Noah celebrates: Joakim Noah untucked his soaking wet jersey as he headed into the visitor’s tunnel after the game, hugged Bulls PR spokeswoman Sebrina Brewster, and unleashed all the frustration of the last few weeks in a few moments. “We’re going to the playoffs,” he screamed. “All this [expletive] and we’re going to the playoffs. Let’s go shock the world.”
His words continued to flow a few moments later as he and Charles Oakley exchanged pleasantries both inside and out of the Bulls locker room.
“Now we’re playing the Cleveland Cavaliers,” he said. “Everybody thinks we’re going to get our [behinds] whupped. And you know what, we’re going to try and shock the world. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s pretty cool I think.”
Bulls press on: So, just how did the Bulls stay focused amidst the firestorm of controversy surrounding their team?
“We could really care less,” center Brad Miller said. “That’s something for you guys to talk about. Our focus [was] we got a bunch of guys that wanted to make the playoffs. We had a lot of games this last week and a half that we could have easily lost and folded with all the crap that you guys keep talking about. Our focus was getting into the playoffs. That’s all that it was. I’m old. I don’t know how many more of these I got, so it’s important to get and for these young guys’ development for this team.”
Derrick Rose: “Usually, whenever you come into a game, or whenever you practice, almost everything that’s in your normal life goes away. Basketball is where you escape all the things you think about normally in a day. We dedicate three hours to just ball out. Just try to do something we tried to do last year and get even further. “
Joakim Noah: “I feel like we’re fighting for our lives. We’re on the court giving everything we got. And we don’t want to talk about something that happened last month. To me, it’s not even something that’s worth talking about. Talk about guys who are playing hurt, doing whatever they can to win a basketball game. Look at what Taj Gibson’s doing. Kirk Hinrich. Brad’s old [behind] has been taking shots to play a basketball for the last two months. Talk about that. To me that’s what it’s all about. My team will sacrifice everything they got in order to make it to this stage.”
Taj Gibson: “Guys just put all that aside. Guys just kept going hard. Guys just never thought about anything else except winning games and we got it done.”