Joakim Noah's Targeted Return Date Would Be Dope
The Bulls are 12-6 without Joakim Noah, but the drop-off in play has been clear. The Bulls never lost to a sub-.500 team with Noah in tow -- look it up. Without him, they've fallen to the Clippers, Nets, 76ers, and the Bobcats twice, even if the loss last night comes with a heavy asterisk denoting the absence of Boozer.
But here's the good news: Noah isn't out forever; he's expected to return sometime in February. According to Bulls.com, Noah may just have a return date in mind:
While he wasn't sure of the timetable from that point on, Noah indicated that the hand would be tested fairly quickly after the pin is removed. And though eager to get back on the court, he knows the rehab won't happen overnight and wants to take it one day at a time. But it's interesting to note that exactly ten weeks after his surgery, the Bulls will host the Miami Heat on Feb. 24 in the team's second meeting of the regular season.
Two thoughts here: a) awesome, and b) bring it the fuck on, Miami. Let's do this right now, while the LOCAL SPORTS TEAM competitive juices are flowing at an all-time high.
The Bulls' ability to grind out wins this season playing without either their second or third best player for nearly the entire way has been nothing short of admirable. But with a fully operational team, this roster should be able to do some serious freaking damage. Noah was an inspiration early in the season -- don't let those last few injury-riddled games fool you. The Bulls gave him $60 million just a few months ago for a reason: he is very good at basketball. Other people who are very good at basketball: Derrick Rose (MVP-good), Carlos Boozer (20-and-10 good). I also really like the way the supporting cast has started to come together: you've got an elite (yeah, I said it) perimeter defender (Brewer), shot-blocking (Asik), shooting (Korver), and a guard capable of filling it up at a moment's notice (C.J. Wattttttttttttson). And Taj is a hell of a sixth man. Also: Luol Deng as your fourth best player? Juicy.
So: are we looking at a title contender? Let's talk about it! Getting ahead of yourself is the best. Honestly: I think you have to consider them a dark horse. That's me being as objective as possible.
Gimme Boston in the second round right now. LOCAL SPORTS TEAM.
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Been meaning to post this: My favorite Noah injury quote. It's the second best quote I've ever from an athlete in a while, obviously behind Ryan Howard's mind-bending Cranberries reference:
Joakim Noah: terminally chill. As if you didn't already know that.
H/T (top part): By the Horns.