Joakim Noah was a defensive force like few big men of his era. He was the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time All-Defensive Team player because of his energy and versatility on that end of the floor, plus his ability to quarterback a defense set him apart.
Injuries and age caught up with Noah, and on Tuesday the Clippers waived the 35-year-old center and his agent, Bill Duffy, told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that will likely push Noah to retirement.
“What an illustrious career for Joakim, starting with two national titles at the University of Florida, to becoming an NBA Defensive Player of the Year and ultimately evolving into one of the most passionate, spirited players to ever come through our sport,” Duffy told ESPN on Tuesday night. “It’s been my honor to represent Joakim through his journey.”
Noah’s legend started before he got to the NBA. He was the son of French tennis icon Yannick Noah (a French Open winner) but at 6’11” was a little tall for that sport. Instead he took to basketball and became a two-time NCAA champion for Billy Donovan at Florida.
Drafted with the No. 9 pick in 2007 by the Chicago Bulls and had his peak years with that franchise, being named to the All-Star Game in 2013 and 2014, and in that latter year he made the All-NBA team and was defensive player of the year.
Noah was also sneaky good as a grab-and-go guy who could get the board then lead the break.
Noah went on to play for the Knicks, Grizzlies, and Clippers, but injuries slowed him down in later years. Still, he was one of the game’s better defensive big men, one of it’s bigger personalities and more entertaining players in the league. He will be missed.