Joakim Noah tells critics of teammate Derrick Rose to ‘shut up’

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (left) and Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (right) sit on the bench during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. The Bulls beat the Cavaliers 107-75. (Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (left) is defending guard Derrick Rose (right) not like a teammate, but like a brother. (Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

After tearing his ACL in the first round of the Chicago Bulls’ 2012 playoff series loss to Philadelphia, practically the entire city went into mourning. However, the superstar point guard has been medically cleared to play for months now and continues to wear street clothes at the end of the bench.

Luol Deng can’t play as he deals with a very serious bout of what is potentially meningitis. Kirk Hinrich also continues to sit with a calf injury. Big men Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah both have missed real time with sickness and a foot injury, respectively. Little man Nate Robinson was literally throwing up on the sidelines in the middle of a game that he continued to participate in.

As fans watch the Bulls win games despite illness and despite Noah hobbling himself up and down the court, the criticism of Rose with each passing day and game grows louder.

After the Bulls shocked the top-ranked Miami Heat to steal Game 1 of their second-round playoff matchup, however, All-Star center Noah came to the defense of his still-hurting teammate.

“Derrick’s a brother,” Noah told ESPN. “And to see him go through this is tough, but at the end of the day it’s really funny how quick people are to judge. But people don’t know what it’s like to lead a team, especially after you tore your ACL.

“If you tore your ACL and you have to be the starting point guard and have the expectations that Derrick has, then maybe you can judge, but everybody who hasn’t been in that situation before should really shut up because I feel like it’s just so unfair to him and to this team. We’re fighting, and everybody’s going to just s— on somebody who’s been giving so much to this organization. It’s crazy to me.”

If anything is certain, it is that Noah and his teammates have not thrown Rose under the bus. With all those injuries and illnesses and everything else, the Bulls actually on the floor have put together the gutty, heartfelt type of playoff run that is rarely reserved for the league’s annual champion.

Shooting guard Jimmy Butler, for example, played every single second of the Bulls’ sixth and seventh games against Brooklyn and the Game 1 win over Miami. However, no one knows that because everyone is talking about Rose’s knee.

As for Rose himself, Noah believes his team’s true heart and soul is not letting the criticism get to him.

“He can say that he doesn’t [listen to it],” Noah said. “I think he’s dealing with it unbelievable. He’s tough as nails, man. He’s not budging. He doesn’t let none of that affect him; whether it’s praise or people judging him about his decision, he’s the same. He’s the same, and I really respect that because I don’t think a lot of people could deal with the things that he deals with on a daily basis.”

While our first instincts — especially watching guys like Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson come back so quickly — are to criticize and hate on D-Rose, we should be inclined to believe Noah on this one. He is in the locker room with him every single day, after all.

That being said, however, it would be nice to see Rose actually take the court at some point besides during pre-game warm-ups.

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