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By Sam Smith | 3.04.2015 | 7:14 p.m. CT
The NBA has for many years worked to limit violence on the basketball court. Bulls center Joakim Noah is doing his part where it’s more important, off the basketball court.
Noah has worked for several years with Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Parish and former NBA star Isiah Thomas on the Peace Basketball Tournament and has participated in marches to urge an end to gang violence. In line with his relentless nature on the basketball court and reputation as a player who won’t quit and follows through with multiple efforts, Noah Wednesday at Bulls practice revealed another project to help pursue peace, especially among youth.
It’s called “Rock Your Drop: The Drop of Consciousness.” It’s a necklace in the design of a teardrop to bring awareness to the issue of violence not only in Chicago’s streets but elsewhere. Noah said necklaces can be purchased at www.rockyourdrop.com. Funds will be used toward more programs to help kids with jobs and activities and help turn them away from violence as well as the threats to their lives and communities.
This comes a day after Noah’s foundation produced and released an anti-violence video “You’re Not Alone,” with author Alex Kotlowitz. That featured Bulls from Chicago, like Derrick Rose and Nazr Mohammed as well as Taj Gibson, discussing their connection to people affected by the violence.
"The video was very important for people from all shapes of life to look at (because) it’s not a problem that’s just going on the South Side or the West Side,” said Noah. “This is everybody’s problem. Me and my mother (Cecilia Rodhe), we started this movement. It’s called Rock Your Drop: The Drop of Consciousness. It’s a necklace—you can look at everything on rockyourdrop.com—that represents a tear drop. It’s something we’ve been working really hard on. It’s to bring awareness to all the violence that’s going on and also that we’re all in this together, you’re not alone. Just like Alex Kotlowitz said.
"It’s our movement and we’re very proud of it, and we just hope that it can spread,” said Noah. “The more money we raise, the more programs we can put in for these kids. It’s a harsh reality here in Chicago. Violence is out of control. As somebody who plays for the Chicago Bulls, I just feel like it’s important to be aware and be involved. I want to thank Alex Kotlowitz for making that video and teaching me a lot about what’s going on here. The city also has just taught me a lot.
"We’ve got to find solutions,” said Noah. “One way we can all help is by putting in more programs, getting these kids more jobs, getting these kids more activities, things to do. Some of these kids don’t have the opportunities that we have in the suburbs. I just think it’s important to help. No matter what shape of life, no matter where you come from, it’s important we can all get involved. I think rockyourdrop.com is where we all can come together and we’re all wearing this symbol no matter where you come from.
"I grew up in New York City and I think basketball definitely shaped me,” said Noah. “I was definitely a kid who was very privileged, my dad being a tennis player. At the same time I was exposed to a lot. Like I said, Chicago is such a blessing. I’ve been here for eight years now and it feels like home to me. I think as much love as there is in this city for their sports and how this city has embraced me, I think it’s important also to see what the problems are and to find solutions.”
Noah said he and fellow Bulls Rose and Mohammed discuss the violence issues in the city “all the time. They’re from here. They grew up in it. They understand the situations better than anybody. When I go talk to the kids I talk to Pooh and I talk to Nazr. I don’t really talk too much. I try to listen as much as possible. It’s important.”