There’s a really cool vibe inside the United Center when it’s empty and dark. It feels like you can hear it if you listen hard enough o Stories of the 1990s. I was standing in front of the midfield logo, one of the most iconic logos in the sport, looking up, something I don’t think I’ve ever had before.
Banners hung above, signs of a different time, a dominant time for the Chicago Bulls. These teams are long gone now; The fans are older, grayer and slower. As today’s team He’s having trouble finding his identity.The arena is a reminder of bygone days.
Breaking our brief silence, former Bulls center Joakim Noah said with a wistful smile, “This place is special.”
He hears it too. Echoes.
Noah, who He announced that he will retire in 2021, had just finished shooting photos for the team’s collaboration with Chicago-based brand Lyrical Lemonade. New limited edition capsule collection It consists of graphic t-shirts, hoodies, varsity jackets, hats, basketballs and plush, all featuring a custom-made partner logo.
“I really feel like there is no such thing (as retirement). It’s just a mentality,” Noah said. “Obviously it’s different not playing basketball anymore. You always have to find your purpose and find things to do. Because since I was little it’s always been waking up, practicing… what can I do to get better at basketball? The vision is different now,” he said.
During his nine seasons with the Bulls, Noah became one of the team’s most beloved players. Known for his passion, characteristic high bun, and distaste for Cleveland, he represented the kind of player fans connected with; It’s a bond Noah maintains even in his absence from the field.
In the summer of 2022, Noah shared his views on life and basketball with his former teammate and best friend Derrick Rose. Sponsored Simeon men’s basketball team on trip to Senegal.
“Understanding that this is more important than sports is one of the greatest blessings in my life,” he explained. “It’s also understanding what you represent to the community and if you do it right it can last a lifetime.
“I am very proud of the work I do in the community. It’s not just post-career, you have to build an identity and put in the time, and that started my rookie year. Having teammates like Derrick Rose who understood the vision and being able to take a trip with inner-city kids from Chicago and bring them to the Homeland was probably one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had. “Not only for them, but also for myself.”
As a Bulls ambassador, Noah hopes to deepen his relationship with the Chicago community. The role of modeling the Lyrical Lemonade collaboration came through the team, and she sees it as an opportunity to not only “work with great companies,” but also to continue her work. his foundation, Noah’s Ark.
“The good thing is, my foundation is here,” he said. “We do Many studies related to children, sports and arts, To enable these children to express themselves.
“So that’s where most of my work is, and being able to work with the Bulls makes that a lot easier. Just being able to use that platform to raise funds. That’s the biggest thing there is for a sports platform.”
Noah’s Arc’s One City Basketball League, which was launched in 2023, takes initiatives to prevent violence through sports. Noah said girls would be added to the league and Chicago Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon to join him.
“Teresa is my childhood friend, my mentor,” he said. “I remember when I was a kid, he was playing for the (New York) Liberty at the time and he would always make time for me. Then when I came to the (New York) Knicks, those were tough times for me. “I’ve been through a lot in my life and he was always a mentor and very supportive.”
The Bulls embrace Noah and other alumni, using the team as a platform to do good in and around the city.
“Being a part of the fabric of our community here in Chicago is extremely important to us,” said Bulls marketing director Sarah Smith. “So we definitely want to be civically engaged at all times. We know that we have a global platform as a brand, and we also represent Chicago. “So staying close to these alumni and current players who are active in the community is also a way for us to branch out as a brand.”
Smith said the Bulls want to keep their ties with their former players alive and that it is important for Noah to be a part of the team’s future.
“I really think Chicago is a place that has a big impact on other places,” Noah said. “I just want to make sure our programs in Chicago are locked in so we can grow stronger roots, then the tree grows and (we) can bring it to other communities.”