Joakim Noah is Defensive POY

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has been named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year.

"This is very humbling to be in this situation right now," Noah said at a news conference.

Noah also took time to thank coach Tom Thibodeau conceding, "Without your system, this wouldn't be possible."

Noah dedicated his award to his beloved mentor, Tyrone Green, who passed away last week.

"This award goes to somebody who I'll never forget," Noah said. "Somebody who just passed and meant so much to me, who believed in me. Mr. Green, I love you and I appreciate you and I know you're smiling down right now really proud. This award goes to you."

Noah is in the midst of the best season of his professional career, averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game during the regular season.

Aside from serving as the defensive anchor for Thibodeau's system, Noah has also become an even bigger leader on and off the floor for his teammates after the loss of Derrick Rose (knee surgery) and the trade of Luol Deng to Cleveland.

"Each year I think he's gotten better and better," Thibodeau said. "And I think that's a testament to his will and determination. And he's improved in many different areas -- everyone talks about the passing and his defense but offensively his scoring, his leadership, his professionalism (have grown)."

Noah picked up 100 first-place votes and earned 555 of a possible 1,125 points; each first-place vote is worth five points, a second-place vote is worth three points and a third-place vote is worth one point.

Indiana's Roy Hibbert (166 points, eight first-place votes) and the Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan (121 points, eight first-place votes) finished second and third, respectively.

Noah becomes the first Bull since Michael Jordan to win the prestigious award. Jordan won the award in 1988. The emotional center also has a strong chance to make the All-NBA first team. Noah made sure to acknowledge several teammates by name -- making sure they receive recognition as well.

"This award is not about me," Noah said. "Even though I get to go home with that weird looking dude ... it's not even a great defensive stance. But this is about our team."

Noah's award isn't the last time the Bulls have a chance to earn some individual honors -- teammate Taj Gibson is considered a strong candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, while Thibodeau figures to be in the running for Coach of the Year.

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