In a February game against a non-conference opponent resting 4 major rotation players, Joakim Noah played 39 minutes on a hurting right foot. Worse yet, they lost anyway, though I'd say the results matter less than the foresight in handling injuries.
Per Jay's recap, Noah had a 3rd straight game where he's looked better, but still not completely back. I had a similar impression, and though Noah did collect 5 offensive rebounds, he only had 7 points on 3-5 shooting. His 5 fouls, and the general defensive issues of the team lately, could be tied to a lack of full agility to do the things he normally does. Noah can still put up numbers, especially in that many minutes, but it's a difference between what we see now and his All-Star-level of play earlier in the season.
Noah has vowed to play through the injury andhoping the foot improves even though playing NBA games (especially the ThibsBall kind) isn't the usual prescription. After Monday, Noah seemed a bit frustrated:
I just don't have a good answer to give you guys...There's no right or wrong, it's just trying to find something that works. I didn't do much for the last two days so, just rest. I got to figure out something that works because I have to practice, too.
I'd think a potential 'right' is to simply rest, especially with the All-Star break approaching, but that doesn't appear to be on the table. Aggrey Sam had the strange choice of wording when saying "anyone who’s familiar with [Noah's] competitive nature knows that it was solely his decision to play", which suggests that nobody from Thibs to the front office will bother otherwise, and they won't tell us anything useful...so screw them.
Instead lets go back to Noah himself, and what he said when he first admitted this injury on the 4th of this month:
The one in 09-10, I just kept playing through it. I probably played with it for a month until I couldn't anymore. This time, I stopped a lot earlier. I probably played on it for five or six games. I just knew what direction it was going in. In 09-10, I just tried to act like it wasn't there and play through it. That was a mistake.
While Noah did stop after "five or six" games and rested three of them, he's since played three more games even though it's still hurting him. Maybe it really is improving this time, but if not is this really Noah learning from his mistakes or instead repeating them?