The news broke a couple of days ago that Joakim Noah was sent home from the national team due to an injury. My first thought was the thumb.
However, as K.C. Johnson reports, it's the ankle he sprained at the end of the season that's, apparently, still an issue.
Joakim Noah has returned to the United States after French basketball officials requested the Bulls' big man further rehabilitate the right ankle he sprained late in the season, sidelining him for three games.
Noah received this news as he underwent a routine medical exam last week in Paris while he prepared to join the French national team in training for the European championships. FIBA.com first reported the news, which the Tribune confirmed.
The French Basketball Federation released a statement saying, "In an act of transparency, the FFBB sent the medical reports to his club and his agent."
It's interesting that Joakim felt he was in good enough condition to play for the French National team, but he failed the physical. Typically, you'd think that an ankle injury severe enough to send you home from the national team would be a known entity going into the physical though Mickael Pietrus also failed his physical and opted to get surgery on his knee afterwards.
If this is related to an ankle injury he suffered in March, then it's clearly no typical ankle sprain. A high ankle sprain would account for such a long recovery time, but Noah would have to be tough as hell to have played through a high ankle sprain the way he did at the end of the season.
Whether it was a high ankle sprain or not, any injury that hasn't recovered after three and a half months [and a month and a half after the season ended] explains Noah's dip in performance at the end of the regular season and playoffs.
We kept hearing that Noah needed to get his wind back, but clearly he was actually playing hurt.
Where does this leave us with the Bulls medical staff? Did they not properly diagnose the injury or did they purposefully undersell how bad Noah was hurt?
Granted, Noah could have easily covered up symptoms so that he could continue playing. The Bulls weren't going to order x-rays and MRIs if Noah wasn't complaining while the French team might give him a more thorough examination before letting him play at all.
Given the type of competitor Noah is, it certainly wouldn't surprise me if he simply refused to let on about the severity of his injury in order to stay on the court. Particularly during the playoffs.
However, the fact that Noah still needs to undergo a rehab program for his ankle, apparently, wasn't on one before isn't particularly good news. Regardless of whether he undersold the injury or whether the Bulls medical staff failed to diagnose it, he clearly hasn't been under a proper rehab program for the injury.
Is this a big deal going forward? No. Not in a vacuum. However, it's not "nothing" either.
The fact that Noah is sitting here in mid July with a bad enough injury that he can't play for his national team and apparently wasn't on a rehab program before finding this out constitutes a failure with Joakim to execute a rehab program or the Bulls medical staff to give him one.
If Noah failed to execute a rehab program that's a pretty scary thought for Bulls fans and certainly doesn't say anything good about his work ethic going forward.
If the Bulls failed to give him one that's not much better. Remember this was the medical staff that found nothing wrong with Deng and basically made a press release just to call him a pussy and to tough it out only to act like that never happened a month later when an independent doctor found a stress fracture in his leg.
Either way, barring something absurdly wrong with his ankle, Noah will clearly be fine before the season starts, so there's likely no real impact on the next NBA season whenever that may be.