First-time All-Star Joakim Noah is considering the possibility of skipping the all-star game as he recovers from a case of plantar fasciitis. Noah missed three games before returning to action against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, but it’s worth asking: why did he rush back so quickly?
Noah has previously dealt with plantar fasciitis, when he missed 18 games with it in 2010. Richard Hamilton suffered the same ailment earlier this season and missed about a month. And yet, here’s Noah, back after only a week and clearly not fully healthy.
Noah put up a double-double against the Utah Jazz in his second game back, but his defense was consistently a step or two slow and the normally spry big man struggled to get up and down the floor, with the Jazz continually pushing the pace and punishing the Bulls in transition.
We can make all the #FredClearedHim or #ThibsBall jokes we want, but the fact remains that the Bulls have a history in recent years of bringing players back much sooner than expected. Noah himself suffered a badly sprained ankle in game three of the Bulls’ first round playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers — just days after Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL — and came back later in the game. The injury lingered long enough to force Noah to miss the Olympics in August, three full months after the initial injury. Luol Deng played almost the entirety of last season with a torn ligament in his wrist that should have required surgery — which he still hasn’t had, by the way.
This is especially concerning given the prospect of #TheReturn, which draws closer by the day. There’s no way the Bulls are willing to risk Rose’s long-term health to win a few games in the short term, right?