Agony of the feet

Joakim Noah is struggling with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, but he really, really wants to play. He’s wearing new orthotics, undergoing treatment, and even ingesting some mystrious “fruit drink” that’s supposed to help his feet. But the pain hasn’t gone away. In two games he’s missed two breakaway dunks. It’s not a coincidence.

Said Noah: “I want to play the whole game. I think [the coaches] know that. But what can I do? I’m not going to go to the media and say I’m not happy with the situation. They told me this was going to happen. I want to help. But I have to get healthy.”

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro also wants Noah to play, but Vinny is limiting Jo’s minutes to reduce the wear and tear on his aching foot. The medical staff doesn’t think shutting Noah down is the answer, but neither is asking him to log heavy minutes.

Said Del Negro : “We want him out there. It’s just that he’s not healthy. His foot is healing as fast as it can. It’s frustrating for him, I’m sure. But he’s just got to keep on getting his rest, getting his therapy and hopefully, it will continue to improve. … He’s had a lot of therapy and a lot of time, but those are difficult injuries. And everyone is a little bit different — where it is on your foot. We’ll just take it a day at a time. See how he feels. And increase his minutes as we see fit.”

Sadly, there’s no good answer with plantar fasciitis.

I’ll go ahead and admit I’ve been dealing with this injury for a couple months now. Some days it’s really bad, some days not so much. But as an avid pickup baller who plays two or three times a week, I can tell you it’s affected my game. Heck, it’s affected my walk from the train station to my job in the morning.

I was never much of a leaper, but now I have no lift. I also have no thrust on my first step. As a result, I’ve been struggling to get to the hoop, and I’ve had more shots stuffed in the last 30 days than the past couple years. It’s a bit of an ego-ectomy, really.

Like Noah, I want to play. But also like Noah, the problem persists.

It’s affecting my pickup teams, and it’s affecting the Bulls. And don’t forget that — with much less limelight — Taj Gibson is also playing through a case of plantar fasciitis, and Brad Miller is being asked to log too many minutes in relief. That double whammy could certainly explain why those two guys played so badly against the Wizards on Monday.

As K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has pointed out, this entire situation — Noah’s injury, Gibson’s injury, Miller’s minutes, and the defensive confusion of new Bull Hakim Warrick — is impacting Chicago’s defense. The Bulls lead the league in rebounding and blocked shots, and they’re tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder in lowest opponents’ field-goal percentage.

But barring a mystical fruit drink miracle, those numbers seem destined to fall. And Washington big man Andray Blatche’s 25-point, 11-rebound performance against the Bulls may become the rule rather than the exception. Hopefully, Warrick can get up to speed defensively. And fast.

Said Warrick: “It’s been a little tough for me. They’re a little more aggressive, especially on side pick-and-rolls and showing and blitzing. With the Bucks, we were sending (opponents) baseline. Coach Scott Skiles had a thing where he didn’t want to switch it up as much. They switch (screens) a little more here.”

These are the little things that haunted the Bulls in their loss to the Wizards, and it could make stealing a decent playoff seed pretty difficult. And unfortunately, Bulls fans can only do what Noah is doing: sit and wait and hope.

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7 Responses to Agony of the feet

    Tony C. February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Good, painful summary, Matt. We don’t know, of course, to what extent Taj is hampered by the condition, but even if it is relatively mild, he has played through it impressively. I do hope that management proves smart enough not to risk significant delays in the healing processes with both of these terrific young players.

    bullsfandom February 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    One of the themes so far this year has been our inability to stop the other teams ‘bigs’ though so I don’t see this as too shocking. What we really are missing is all of Noah’s intangibles and heart. He gave us our swagger and kept our energy up, and no offense to Warrick but I don’t see him being able to fulfill that part of Noah’s game no matter how much he practices.

    Get well soon Joakim!

    Max February 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    With a win tonight the Bulls will be 20-10 in there last 30 games. 1 loss and now were headed for misery? Matt I enjoy your blogs, please don’t turn into the NFL bloggers who panic after 1 loss. Miller is tired and it showed against the Wizard.

    bobbysimmons February 24, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Max, the problem with the loss against Washington was that we lost in a sort of inept and pathetic way. It’s always good to temper the unbridled optimism with a little dash of gloom and doom. Since everyone was saying that Murray/Warrick are the Salmons/Miller of last year, it’s good that the Washington game revealed to us that we really are just a slightly above average team.

    Boppinbob February 25, 2010 at 5:12 am #

    Let’s not forget that the Bulls key players (Deng, Gibson, Rose, Noah)are young and inexperienced and will let up on games that they should win. We are still in a learning process. This is where Hinrich needs to step up and take a leadership role with this team. But with 4 of the key players being 24 or less the Bulls fans can expect some let downs against should win teams.

    Max February 25, 2010 at 6:50 am #

    Don’t get me wrong Bobby, they have a long way to go, but I at least see hope with this team. They are so young and so talented (Taj,Noah,Deng and Rose) And with another player added to the mix I think they can become a team that can compete year in and year out. That being said I just am happy with the way the team we have now is playing. I expect maybe a second round appearance or at least a competitive first round. I never felt that even with the Baby Bulls in years past. Something just was off with those teams. I feel Luck brought the City Derrick Rose and a few good draft picks have helped this team become a good young team on the rise. I honestly think this a attractive team come Free Agent time. Maybe even more so than the Knicks and honestly when all these guys were growing up you know they dreamed of playing for The Bulls(Even Lebron)

    Plantar Fasciitis Inserts February 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    I don’t know what kind of therapy they are giving him and god knows what the fruit drink is but there’s two things he should be doing that didn’t even get mentioned.

    One, he should be wearing a night splint every night when he goes to bed to keep his fascia “stressed” so it heals properly and doesn’t get reinjured every morning when he gets up.

    Two, the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery published a stretch that was specifically designed for plantar fasciitis that he should be doing three times a day. The stretch is on my website.

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