Noah dealing with injury by reflecting on past


Noah dealing with injury by reflecting on past

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011
5:21 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam

NEWARK, N.J.Before Tuesdays win over the Raptors, injured center Joakim Noah held court in the Bulls locker room. But it didnt feel like old timesNoah doesnt normally talk to the media before gameswith a more somber look on the face of the charismatic New York City native.

Just being injured as an athlete, it sucks. It definitely puts things in perspective. It makes you appreciate the game a little bit more. I had to deal with that a little bit last year. Being injured is part of the process. Every athlete goes through it and its just how you deal with it, said Noah, who told reporters that hell get the cast off of his right handfollowing last months thumb surgerynext week. That Christmas one at home in New York was pretty tough for me, but theyre all tough. Even practices are toughI want to play in the games and Miami of course is a game I want to play in. I just want to be there with my teammates and improve as a group, and see how far we can take this thing.

Noah discussed playing in Toronto the night before he was scheduled to have surgery.

Usually injuries happen and you cant really play. I knew I was having surgery and I played that night. Its definitely a weird feeling, but hey, we won the game, recounted Noah. Doc said it wouldnt make a difference. I asked him if I could play and they were just like, Youre going to have surgery tomorrow, but if you want to play, I guess you can do whatever you want.

Although Noah cant play basketball, hes not sitting by idly.

Ive been working out for a little while. Dont tell anybody, thoughI want them to think I was just chilling on vacation. I will be back, said Noah. Ive been running and doing some conditioning, and doing some liftinga lot of core work, a lot of leg strengthening. Its hard to make everything game like. Theres nothing like playing in a basketball game, nothing you can do to simulate a basketball game, but Im doing the best I can, even with a cast on.

Just taking it day by day, controlling what I can control. I can do some running. Theres some things I can do out there. Work on my left hand, work on my in-and-outI cant crossover, but I can work on my in-and-out with my left hand. When it matters, Ill be ready.

For the perpetually active fourth-year player, watching his teammates play without him has been difficult, but hes gleaning some positives from the experience.

Am I learning anything? No, Im just learning that were a pretty good basketball team. The potential is scary. I think we definitely have a way to go and theres a lot of areas to improve on, but were still in a pretty good place right now, so weve just got to keep improving, stay humble, stay driven and not get caught up in any of the hype, even though I think were a little bit under the radar. But I think we have a chance to do something pretty special here and thats pretty exciting, explained Noah. Right now, I know Im not going to go on this road trip. Thibs thinks its better that I stay behind and just work out at the Berto, and right now, Im just focusing on that and well see how it goes when the cast comes off.

One of the more disappointing elements of Noah being sidelined is that his absence occurred after he and Carlos Boozer played in only a handful of contests together.

Carlos is obviously somebody who takes our team to a whole other level. We have a chance to do something special with the pieces that we have here and Ive never played with somebody whos that gifted offensively in the post, so Im very excited to hopefully learn a few things with him. Even when I was playing with him, I was hurt. I didnt really have a right hand, so Im excited to play with him when Im 100 percent healthy, said Noah.

Still, he thinks the close-knit teams burgeoning chemistry is one of the factors in the teams success thus far this season.

I think it means a lot. When you have teammates that respect each other, I think it really makes a huge difference. I think everybodys in it for the right reasons and I think thats very important, said Noah. Its not just a question about being close. Ive been on teams that have been very close and we couldnt win a game. Its more than that. Its about sacrificing for one another and not being selfish. At the end of the day, yeah, I think Ive been on teams that maybe weve hung out more, but that doesnt particularly mean youre going to win more basketball games. I think it helps to be close, but at the end of the day, playing for the right reasons are more important.

In the meantime, Noah is keeping himself occupied with, among other pursuits, filling in as a guest television analyst for Bulls games.

I was actually pretty nervous. Its tough. I had to cough at one point; I didnt know that you had to push a button. People are talking in the earpiece and I didnt know you had to keep talking while that goes on, so I had to learn a lot on the fly, but overall, people said it was pretty good. I was a little worried about it, but it was cool, he quipped.

After the teams slide when he was out last season, his noticeable impact on games and his popularity in the city, Noah knows hes not a forgotten man in Chicago or even elsewhere, as evidenced by his third-place position in the most recent balloting for the NBA All-Star Game.

Its cool, but I think theres a bigger picture than All-Star balloting and obviously as a player, thats humbling, he observed. Its not nothing, but at the end of the day, you have to look at the big picture and the big picture is to play at the end.

And for that to happen, a healthy Noah will be necessary.

The Starting Five

1. With the Bulls winning 14 of their last 16 games, it would be easy for the team to lose focus against some of their underwhelming opponents, such as the Nets, who Chicago is playing for the second time in less than a week. Luol Deng, however, believes the key to continuing the Bulls winning ways is to stay the course. Weve just got to stay humble. We know what were striving towards. Winning like this is new for a lot of us, so the main thing is really to know that it could be gone anytime. Weve just got to keep working hard and keep getting better. Its not really about our opponent each game. Tomorrow, Jerseys a good team, but its still about us, how were going to come out there and play tomorrowour main focus is us getting better. However the game goes, the main thing is did we get better that game or not and what did we do defensively, said Deng. A lot of times, you dont want to see teams right away, especially after you beat them. Guys get up for games like that and Im sure Jerseys waiting on us tomorrow. Then again, we can have the confidence that we beat themthe whole season so far has been fun. We work hard and its fun to see the results. Since training camp, weve been talking about how hard it was and were seeing results now, so weve got to keep staying with it.

2. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau shared his relatively humorous take on Noahs status. He can stretch andlets see what elsehe can run on the treadmill, he can do things like that and he can lift with his lower body. Its mainly all conditioning stuff, said Thibodeau, who added that Noah wouldnt be traveling with the team until we get closer to him coming back. While were practicing, hes working with our strength and conditioning peopleon game day, hell be down at the United Center early and hell be in back in the weight room, working out.

3. Noah also discussed three veteran players who have influenced him: Kurt Thomas and former teammates Ben Wallace and Brad Miller. Kurts somebody I grew up watching a lot of, when he used to play with the Knicks. Somebody I have great respect for. Probably one of the best post defenders, even to this day. I think that his post defense is very underrated. Its definitely one of the reasons why hes still around. Its definitely not his physique. I feel like Ive been lucky to have a lot of great vets since Ive been in the NBA, said Noah. I learned a lot from Ben Wallace, in terms of defensive body positioning and things like that. With Brad, I feel like I learned a lot about passing angles and even him, hes pretty slow on his feethe wasnt a great athletebut his positioning defensively, thats what he needed to be effective on defense. Brad was somebody who had a very high I.Q. and Kurt is kind of similar in that way. Hes not very quick on his feet, he doesnt have unbelievable bounce or anything like that, but hes somebody who understands positioning and angles.

4. An issue starting to gain steam nationallyas well as in Chicago, of courseis Derrick Roses MVP candidacy. Noah opined, I think that at first, when he said it in the beginning of the season, I think everybody looked at him like he was crazy, but hes somebody who has a lot of confidence in his ability and were playing at a pretty high level. I think that hes somebody who understands that the success of this team is going to determine a lot of things for him individually. I think that he understands that wellever since he got into the leaguethat its not about his stats, but its about the success of his team, thats whats going to bring everything.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Looking ahead to opening night matchup against Celtics

Bulls Talk Podcast: Looking ahead to opening night matchup against Celtics

In our latest installment of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill get you set for opening night against the Celtics. 

They debate realistic expectations for the team and break down the decision to start Taj Gibson at power forward. Later, Schanowski and Gill analyze the team's biggest concern, defense. 

Finally, CSN New England's Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely joins the panel to discuss what Rajon Rondo has left in the tank. 

Check out the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast below: 

Mark Schanowski's 2016-17 NBA playoff predictions

Mark Schanowski's 2016-17 NBA playoff predictions

With the 2016-17 NBA season tipping off tonight with three games, here's a look at how the playoff races might end up.

Let's start with the West, where Kevin Durant's move from Oklahoma City to Golden State may have shifted the balance of power for the next half decade.

1. Golden State (Projected record, 67-15). Sure, it might take the Warriors a little time to build their on-court chemistry, but if you watched any of the preseason games, that lineup is absolutely lethal. Durant looks relaxed in his new environment, and will get more open 3's than he ever could have imagined in Oklahoma City. The "Splash Brothers", Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, should be more rested come playoff time since they won't have to do all the heavy lifting during the regular season. Add in do-everything forward Draymond Green, underrated veteran center Zaza Pachulia and elite sixth man Andre Iguodala, and it's pretty clear Steve Kerr's guys will run away and hide from the rest of the Western Conference field.

2. L.A. Clippers (55-27). It's now or never for Doc Rivers' crew, with a number of key players potentially headed for free agency next summer, including starters Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick. Griffin got off to a fast start a year ago, but then saw his season ruined by injuries and a suspension for fighting with a team employee. Paul is still an elite point guard, but may decide to leave if things don't go well this time around. Lots of talent on this roster including first-team All-NBA center DeAndre Jordan, and Rivers again tweaked his bench with the addition of free agent stretch five Marreese Speights (from Golden St.), forward Brandon Bass and swingman Alan Anderson.

3. San Antonio (53-29). Never underestimate the ability of Gregg Popovich to put together a championship contender, but with Tim Duncan retired and Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker past their prime, the Spurs don't seem to have the ingredients to survive three brutally tough playoff rounds in the West. This team now belongs to Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, with former Bulls center Pau Gasol taking over for Duncan. The Spurs are trying to get younger, but it looks like the championship window may have closed.

4. Houston (50-32). Interesting experiment by first year coach Mike D'Antoni to put ball-dominant guard James Harden at point guard. I guess D'Antoni figured since he has the ball in his hands all the time, what's the difference? It's no secret Harden did not get along with big man Dwight Howard (who's now in Atlanta), and he could put up MVP-type numbers this season with the freedom he'll get at the offensive end. More importantly, the addition of three-point shooting threats Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon in free agency could make the Rockets one of the most entertaining teams to watch on League Pass.

5. Portland (49-33). How about another first round playoff shootout between the Blazers and Rockets? We could do a lot worse. C.J. McCollum cashed in big-time after winning the league's Most Improved Player Award, and you can pencil the Blazers backcourt in for about 50 points a night with Damian Lillard emerging as a top 10-15 player in the league. Portland could use a little more punch in the frontcourt, but with wingmen Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe also capable of scoring points in bunches, they should be okay with a big man rotation of Mason Plumlee, former Illini Meyers Leonard, former Warrior Festus Ezeli and young power forwards Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh.

6. Dallas (46-36). Rick Carlisle is one of the NBA's best coaches, and he'll figure out a way to build another playoff team around the skills of all-time great Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Warriors, and should benefit from a full season from Wesley Matthews. Former Illini star Deron Williams returns to run the point, and the bench is decent with J.J. Barea, Justin Anderson, Dwight Powell and Seth Curry, who played very well late in the season with Sacramento.

7. Oklahoma City (44-38). Russell Westbrook is determined to keep his team in the playoffs without Kevin Durant, which means you can count on Russ playing at an MVP level this season, possibly averaging 30-8-8. I like the addition of Victor Oladipo at shooting guard, but the Thunder sacrificed power forward Serge Ibaka in the process. OKC still has its big man duo of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter, but a lot of question marks with depth on the perimeter.

8. Utah (43-39). After just missing the playoffs a year ago, the Jazz should find a way to break through this time around. Gordon Hayward is one of the league's most underrated talents, and Utah should really benefit from the addition of veteran point guard George Hill, plus proven winners like Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw to help out their talented young players. Derrick Favors has quietly emerged as a rock solid power forward, with the "Stifle Tower", Rudy Gobert anchoring the defense from the center position.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Now to the East, where everyone's chasing the reigning champions.

1. Cleveland (58-24). The Cavs should really go over the 60-win plateau, but LeBron James understands it's all about the playoffs, and will sit out a number of regular season games to stay fresh. The roster is almost identical to last year's, except for the addition of former Bulls' forward Mike Dunleavy and rookie point guard Kay Felder. Don’t be surprised though if the Cavs wind up signing former Heat point guard (and James teammate) Mario Chalmers when he’s fully recovered from injury. Assuming everyone stays healthy, look for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith to take on a lot of the scoring load during the season, and let LeBron put on his Superman cape for Round 3 against Golden St. in the Finals.

2. Boston (52-30). The Bulls' opening night opponent should be stronger than ever with the addition of All-Star big man Al Horford and lottery pick Jaylen Brown. Former Butler coach Brad Stevens didn't take long to master the NBA game, and has waves of perimeter talent to run at opposing teams, led by All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas. Small forward Jae Crowder stole a page from his former Marquette teammate Jimmy Butler on how to be a force at both ends of the court, while big men Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller work well in Stevens' system.

3. Toronto  (50-32). Another 50-win season is in the cards for the team from the Great White North. The Raptors kept shooting guard DeMar DeRozan with a huge contract in free agency, and he'll again team with Kyle Lowry to form one of the league's best backcourts. Toronto needs more production from talented, but inconsistent center Jonas Valanciunas and a full season of health from defensive menace DeMarre Carroll. Depth could be an issue, especially with free agent addition Jared Sullinger already sidelined because of foot surgery.

4. Indiana (49-33). The Pacers decided to make a coaching change after last season's first round playoff exit because team president and Hall of Famer Larry Bird wanted to play faster. So, former assistant coach Nate McMillan replaces Frank Vogel, and the Pacers traded for long-time Hawks' point guard Jeff Teague to push the pace. Paul George is primed for the best season of his career, and Indiana made a great under-the-radar pick-up by acquiring power forward Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn. Second-year center Myles Turner should also have a big impact as a scorer and shot blocker. The Pacers also have scoring power off the bench with Al Jefferson, Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles. Great offseason for Larry Legend.

5. Detroit (47-35). Stan Van Gundy has done a tremendous job changing the culture in the Motor City, getting shoot-first point guard Reggie Jackson to buy in to his philosophy, while staying patient with Andre Drummond's free throw shooting woes. Drummond is a monster on the boards, and one of the league's best centers overall. Van Gundy also has done a good job on the personnel front, stealing talented forward Tobias Harris from Orlando at the trade deadline last season, and picking up Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson in the draft. Jackson will miss the start of the year after foot surgery, but the Pistons should take off when he returns.

6. Atlanta (46-36). It will be interesting to see how the Dwight Howard experiment works in Atlanta, because Howard destroyed team chemistry with the Lakers and Rockets. Howard looked good in the preseason, but will he start to pout in a 3-point heavy offense? Former Bull Kyle Korver is still going strong at the age of 35, Kent Bazemore is a better than average two-way wing player and Paul Millsap is an All-Star going into a free agent season. Biggest question for the Hawks: Is Dennis Schroder ready to be the full-time point guard, or did Mike Budenholzer make a mistake by trading Jeff Teague?

7. BULLS (45-37). One thing we know for sure, the Bulls won't be boring this season with the addition of strong-minded veterans Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. Wade seems genuinely excited about playing in his hometown, and Rondo spent all summer at the training facility getting to know head coach Fred Hoiberg and his new teammates. Jimmy Butler will be asked to increase his scoring from his two previous All-Star seasons, and the Bulls are counting on Doug McDermott to emerge as an offensive force off the bench. Robin Lopez will provide an upgrade over injury-plagued Joakim Noah in the middle, and the power forward tandem of Taj Gibson and Niko Mirotic should be solid. If newcomers Michael Carter-Williams and rookie Denzel Valentine can gel quickly as the reserve backcourt duo, the Bulls have the potential to be one of the NBA's biggest surprises.

8. Charlotte (43-39). Hornets coach Steve Clifford is a Tom Thibodeau disciple, emphasizing defense over everything else. Charlotte lost productive veterans Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee in free agency, but the cupboard is hardly bare. Point guard Kemba Walker could make the All-Star team this season, and perimeter players Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams all bring something different to the table. Depth will be the biggest issue with former Bull Marco Belinelli and Chicago-area product Frank Kaminski being asked to provide offense off the bench.

I would like to tell you we should expect some big surprises when we get to the playoffs in mid-April, but it’s hard to envision any team beating Golden State or Cleveland in a best of 7 series. Round 3 between the Warriors and Cavs will find Kevin Durant celebrating his first NBA championship after a Game 6 win at Oracle Arena.