Joakim Noah uses basketball to battle gang violence
By Joakim Noah for the Chicago Sun-Times: September 26, 2012
"...Even though there were many doubters who thought something like this would never work, I felt really positive about the tournament and expected all of the players to cooperate. However, what I came away with at the end of the day was far greater than I could have ever imagined.
...When we walked into the gym with the kids, the love from the community gave me the same butterflies I get when I suit up for the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The kids felt the energy, too, and put on a great show for the crowd. Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Quentin Richardson and I each coached one of the teams. In the end, Quentin’s Red Team beat Taj’s White Team in the “championship” game. Overall, the whole day went smoothly.
After the game, all of the participants gathered in a room to discuss what we had done. What was expected to be a brief final recap of the day turned into an open forum among the tournament’s players. One after another, they shared messages about “waking up” and getting on the right path, understanding the importance of brotherhood, and finding legitimate jobs to get off the streets. These guys were speaking from the heart, and it was not easy to fight back tears while listening to them.