Chicago Bulls legend Joakim Noah established quite the well-renowned beef with LeBron James over the years, but there was a time when Noah tried to recruit The King to The Windy City. That was in 2010 when LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all hit free agency together.
Noah met with Bosh and “thought it was a done deal” that the Bulls were going to get all three superstars. Noah tried to recruit James as well, but LeBron “didn’t pick up.” The rest is history, of course, because James, Wade and Bosh teamed up on the Miami Heat to form a Big Three.. Those Bulls and Heat teams seemed destined to duke it out in the playoffs for years to come after the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals (“Hollywood as hell”), but Derrick Rose’s torn ACL in 2012 threw a wrench into that.
Still, the Noah-LeBron beef only grew from there, and the former Bulls center opened up to ESPN’s Zach Lowe about how he really feels about James:
“Competition is not pretty, and that’s why people like it,” Noah says. “There are beautiful moments and terrible moments. Competition has brought out the most beautiful sides of me, but also the most terrible sides. That’s the beauty of competition. It’s real. It’s emotions at their rawest. It’s some new-age gladiator s—, and I played that way.”
He has never established a post-playing relationship with James, and does not regret going right at him. “There’s a lot of things I respect about LeBron,” Noah says. “But between those lines, nah, f— that.”
While LeBron is still playing, Noah is retired and getting honored by the Bulls on Thursday night during their game against the New York Knicks. It’s going to be an emotional evening at the United Center, with Noah’s presence a reminder of those ultra-competitive Bulls teams of the last decade before everything fell apart.