May 8, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) push each other during the first quarter in game two of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The worst thing anybody could assume is that center Joakim Noah is dumb. He knows that despite the new NBA landscape, LeBron James remains the hurdle.
Noah knows Chicago Bulls can’t win title without topping LeBron James
Winning Defensive Player of the Year was a tremendous honor for Joakim Noah last season. However, to him it means less than what he has strived for since entering the league which is to win a championship. He wants a ring but for the past four years his Chicago Bulls have continuously been haunted by LeBron James. Twice in the playoffs the team has met the best player in basketball and failed to win more than one game in either series. Now James is with a new team in Cleveland. The change in venue might sway some to think LeBron is less of a threat in the East, but Noah isn’t fooled. He know that if the Bulls are going to break through to the Finals, at some point it will have to be at the expense of James.
Kevin Love trade talks will determine how East develops
Chicago has done a good job during the off-season preparing for that anticipated matchup. Already boasting plenty of defense, they played an aggressive approach in free agency and the draft to add some offensive firepower. With additions like Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott, they have succeeded. Never mind the return of Derrick Rose. However, nobody know entirely yet what the East will look like because the general feeling is the big moves aren’t done being made. Much of that has to do with the cloudy status of All-Star forward Kevin Love. He has been linked repeatedly in trade rumors both with Cleveland and Chicago. Until a decision on his future is reached, the conference makeup will remain a fog.
Either way, Joakim Noah won’t shift his sights from the obvious mission. To win the NBA crown, LeBron James has to go down.