The Chicago Bulls have been eliminated in Game 5 by the Washington Wizards 75-69. This Bulls team was able to get one win, but could not get over the hump and get three more. It seemed as if they did not have enough steam to fully compete with the Wizards at the level at which they were playing. Their star All-Defensive player Joakim Noah was playing a bit reserved. Nobody could quite put their finger on why until now. At the close of the Bulls playoff experience, it became evident to everyone that he was injured.
Noah delivered a statement after the game explaining that he was playing hurt the second half of the season. This was new to all who were listening. The Bulls superstar was telling everyone he had an injured knee, his left knee to be specific. His knee has sustained injuries and he has no idea how. It was left untreated and he persisted to play on it without knowing what was wrong with it. Noah, however, being the fighter he is, offered no excuses despite his limitations. He contributed some quality minutes and put up decent numbers. Noah averaged 10.4 points, 4.6 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 12.8 rebounds per post-season game. In retrospect, this injury did not alter his numbers too much. Those post-season averages are right on par with his regular season numbers.
Now that the season is over, Noah plans to get an MRI in hopes of getting to the bottom of this mysterious knee injury. Tom Thibodeau was fully aware of this lingering injury and gave him the green light to play. Thibodeau said Noah was not willing to sit out. This current information has left Bulls fans with one question? Did Noah’s playing on the injury for so long cause further damage? No one knows for sure. Thibodeau seems comfortable with the idea of waiting to check into this, saying “it is not unusual. ”
With Noah, Taj Gibson, and Derek Rose being injured, where do the Bulls go from here? Though they are not in the playoffs anymore, this is still a serious issue. Those are three key players down at the moment. How does that look to potential free agents that are trying to find a new home? Every NBA player knows that the long-term effects of injuries depend upon the severity of the injury. Another known fact is the recovery time for every injury varies. There is no certainty that the free agent would get a strong, competitive Bulls team next season.
At this point, everything is up in the air until Noah gets the results back from his MRI. There needs to be a definitive answer as to why Noah’s knee would flare up, and require periodic draining. Those crucial answers will determine Thibodeau’s actions moving forward. He has a lot on his hands at this moment, and this will be a trying summer for him. The Bulls franchise needs a complete overhaul, because necessary changes have to be made.
Commentary By: Schelett Rickenbacker