The party is just beginning
A bulked-up Noah has learned NBA's life lessons and is ready to put them to use
Not even the benefit of the doubt, still another lesson he learned over his first two years with the Bulls.
"I don't regret anything, I really don't," he said. "I think everything that happened to me happened for a reason. And I think I learned from it. A lot of the things that happened was [because] we were losing and a lot of the things that happened were really blown out of proportion."
Noah was referring to the infamous "altercation" with Ben Wallace, which resulted in a two-game suspension determined by his teammates.
"It was weird to me how I would turn on the TV and people would act like they knew what happened," Noah said. "But there was no media in there. It was just the team. I never knew who said anything but next thing you know it's on ESPN and all these reporters are calling my room telling me about the altercation between me and Ben Wallace. But that never happened. Did it upset me? Yeah, because I never had scrutiny like that with people saying things that weren't true."
To go from that to a position of responsibility on the team this season has not been lost on Noah.
"I think everybody on the team wants that role, wants to be a person that is counted on, and it's exciting," he said. "I accept that."
So much so that he considers himself a burgeoning leader himself.
"When I talk to the rookies, I don't tell them 'Do this, do that,' because I hated that when they did that to me," he said. "But I try to tell them, 'When I was a rookie, this is what happened to me. And now you make your decision but maybe you don't want to go that route.'"
Or maybe you do and somehow you work your way out of it anyway. That part of the story hasn't yet been written for Noah, but he's getting there.
People still want to talk to him about the steal, full-court drive and dunk that fouled out Boston's Paul Pierce late in the Bulls' triple-overtime victory in Game 6 of the 2009 Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
But more encouraging was when he walked into the Bulls' media day last month noticeably bulked up after stories of his conditioning work this summer. That was further evident in a preseason in which he averaged 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Asked Tuesday how he felt about this year's team, which will open the season at home Thursday night, Noah could have been talking about himself.
"I think we have a lot of potential," he said. "But we'll have to see when there's any kind of adversity, how we deal with it."
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.