Bulls star Joakim Noah descends the basement stairs in his north suburban home, beaming at the creation below.
Taped on the full-length mirrors that surround a health-club-worthy weight room are motivational pictures of opponents he wants to beat and comforting snapshots of family and friends.
There's a picture of his mother, Cecilia Rodhe, Miss Sweden in 1978 and now an artist and sculptor, celebrating after a Bulls victory at the United Center.
There's a poignant portrait of his grandfather, Zacharie, working in a French factory to make ends meet despite his professional soccer career in Cameroon.
There are pictures of Joakim's dorm room at Florida, where he won two NCAA titles; shots of Joakim playing pick-up basketball everywhere from the asphalt playgrounds of New York to the tropical fields of Hawaii; and a hilarious picture of a skinny Dwight Howard and a very feminine-looking Noah from the 2004 Roundball Classic at the United Center.
And of course there's a shot of Joakim's father, Yannick, hawking a product in his first endorsement shortly after galvanizing France in 1983 by becoming the first countryman to win the French Open in 37 years.
"That room is the best investment he has done so far," Yannick says from Paris, where he is now a stadium-filling pop music star. "It's a nice space. He enjoys it. And best of all, he uses it."
Yannick suggested the weight room and decorations, and the pictures reveal plenty about Joakim's multiracial and multicultural upbringing.
As for the mirrors, they reflect a young, budding NBA star who acts at peace with himself and his place in the world.
"Even though he wasn't the best on his team as he grew up, he was always trying," his father says.
"We'd play one-on-one and of course I was bigger and tried to push him. But at the end of the day, I always told him I was proud of him because he tried. He learned that you can lose but you cannot not try."
"I owe the people who helped me."
In the tense, turbulent transition of his rookie season in 2007-08, teammates voted in almost unprecedented fashion to extend his suspension for berating an assistant coach.
Now, Noah posts double-doubles with metronomic regularity, continuing a transformation much like the one he created in his basement.
He has looked inward to remake himself as he reshaped himself.
"That's what it's all about, trying to become a better person throughout," Joakim says.
"It's all about growing. I'm not going to say I've never made mistakes. I've definitely made them. You have to learn from them.
"I feel I'm in a really privileged situation, playing at the highest level, making money doing what I love to do. Not a lot of people get the chance to do that. That's why I really enjoy what I'm doing and always make the most of it. I owe that to the people who helped me."
The influences in Noah's life are many. His mother. His high school and youth coaches. Friends and siblings. Florida coach Billy Donovan.
But Noah openly embraces his fortune in having a famous father serve as close friend and walking example of handling fame.
"I'm lucky that I have a father who I'm incredibly close to but also can relate to what I'm going through," Joakim says.
"That's unbelievable. He's not going to tell me, 'This is how you should do it.' He's going to tell me, 'This is what happened to me and this is how I dealt with it.' He never has lectured me."
Joakim was close to two years from being born when Yannick won his only Grand Slam title. But he has watched the video of that match many times and also fondly remembers Yannick giving him the 1991 Davis Cup trophy the day after Yannick captained the French team to an upset of a U.S. team with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
"My father is the most famous person in France," Joakim says more matter-of-factly than boastfully.
"He has a lot of love over there. He was always on TV growing up. He might say something a little out there and I'd have to go to school the next day. I'm going through my routine with my teachers and friends and you don't really understand everything as a kid. But my father always taught me not to be scared to speak my mind."