By Dan Bernstein–

CHICAGO (WSCR) Not trying to take the easy warm-fuzzies out of a fun night for the Bulls, but I have to ask the question: why should Joakim Noah need the inspiration of his family sitting courtside to come out of the gate playing like that?

He was the early whirlwind that powered the Bulls to a double-digit, first quarter lead that they would not relinquish in slamming the door on the annoying Pacers, finally lowering the curtain on Frank Vogel’s Flying White Circus. He finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, with ten, three, and three of that in the first 12 minutes.

Without fail, credit was given to Noah’s relatives for inspiring the effort, and not just by lazy writers and broadcasters.

“The energy was just there from the beginning,” Noah said. “My grandfather, my sister, my mom. The building is already crazy. There was a lot of energy going on. I just fed off that.”

Perhaps we need to redistribute the five-year, $60 million contract extension he received in October. I was under the impression that he gets that money to inspire himself every night, no matter who is in attendance.

I know. Fun story, prefabricated angle for the sidebar, great visuals. I should just go with it.

(I do agree that graying dreadlocks like grandpa Zacharie’s just look cool. They make me hear steel drums, for some reason.

And sister Yelena is a whole other story. I have a hard time holding in my head the fact that there exists, somehow, a gorgeous woman who looks almost exactly like Joakim Noah. That’s like saying there’s a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model that looks just like Don Cooper.

Human genetics never cease to amaze, and I guess that the chromosomes of Yannick Noah and a former Miss Sweden were bound to produce something more aesthetically pleasing if given another shot at recombination.)

It wouldn’t bother me so much if Noah were not paid handsomely to do just what he did last night. He is the ultimate “energy player,” making up for a lack of bulk and scoring ability by rebounding, running the floor, disrupting with his length and athleticism and moving the ball.

His performance in the dramatic playoff loss to the Celtics two years ago was believed to solidify his value in the minds of John Paxson and Gar Forman. He had gone from immature and inconsistent to professional and reliable, and was rewarded handsomely. At the time, no mention was made of him needing family members imported to stimulate his play.

Let’s not over-celebrate a nice playoff night. The Bulls are a 62-win team – a top seed with title hopes, no longer a gritty upstart trying to make a name for themselves against the big boys. This is the time of the year for everyone on the team to do what each is paid to do (and yes, I’m looking at you too, Carlos).

Another term for Noah’s “inspired” first quarter of action, in a first round playoff game, at home, against inferior competition?

His damn job.

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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