Bulls

Bulls' Noah still on the mend, remains upbeat

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Bulls' Noah still on the mend, remains upbeat

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011
Posted 9:09 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Injured Bulls center Joakim Noah was in an upbeat mood when addressing the media to provide an update on his progress from his December thumb surgery.

Ive been working for a little while and just ready to get this cast off and get back to work, said Noah. Im just trying to be patient and try to stay in high spirits.

I just want to come back as soon as possible. As soon as my hand is healthy, I want to be back there, regardless of what game it is, the charismatic center continued. I knew I was going to take the pin out Tuesday, so I dont really know if its quicker than usual, but everythings been on schedule.

Noah expressed optimism that hed be able to go on the teams upcoming, five-game West Coast road trip Monday, which coincides with the date his cast is removed.

Right now, Im getting this cast off on Monday, before we leave and then I will rehab it until my hand gets strong, and then I will be out there on the court as soon as I can, said Noah, who acknowledged it was Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus decision as to whether he traveled with the team. Its Thibs decision, unfortunatelyI told him that I was going to get on the plane and hed have to kick me off and physically take me off. I really want to go on this trip. Its cold out here right now, so Im excited to spend some time with my teammates.

For Thibodeaus part, the coach told reporters Wednesday that Noahwho was working on drills with his left hand at the end of Wednesdays practice, much to the delight of teammate Carlos Boozerwould most likely make the trip.

Hes on schedule, maybe a little ahead of schedule, but now he has to strengthen the hand, said Thibodeau. The next step will be getting him on to the court to do non-contact stuff. Hes probably still maybe a week or two away from that. Then, once he can get through the non-contact part of practice, the step after that will be the contact part of practice. When he gets through that, then he plays. Hes still two steps away.

Hes in good spirits. Hes working out. He still cant do anything on the court, but hes doing his conditioning and his strength stuff, Thibodeau continued. I know hes anxious to get back. Hes doing everything that he can. Hes done a great job with his conditioning while hes been hurt. He just has to be patient.

While Noah admitted that conditioning and doing drills with his left hand is nothing like playing in the games, hes striving to be as close to game speed upon his return.

Right now, Im just trying to control what I can control and thats get this hand better, get this cast off, rehab, do as much as I can with my left hand and condition and strengthening, stuff like that. When Im out there, I want to help this team the best way I can, but we have been playing great. Kurt Thomas has been doing a great job for us, said Noah. Its definitely differentjust running up and down compared to all the pounding, physicality and pushing of the game; theres no way to prepare for thatbut Im just doing what I can control and doing the best that I can. Just conditioning, jump rope, squats.

Right now, Im in a cast so theres not much that I can do, but once I get the cast off, thats when I start the rehab, he continued. Its part of the process. I guess theres worse things, but just being in a castIm claustrophobic, so at night sometimes I freak out when I have the castbut hey, four more days.

Noah praised the doctors who performed the procedure, injecting his typical quirkiness to the explanation.

The doctors did a great job getting the pin out. It was a little bent apparently. Its usually a 10-minute procedure and it took a little bit longer than that. Its probably my fault. Im happy that its done and I dont have a pin in my finger anymore. Im just waiting for it to healI must have lifted weights or somethingdone somethingthe doctor wasnt very happy about it.

Im happy that he got the pin out without it breaking.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com'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.

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

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USA TODAY

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

Quincy Pondexter’s trade to Chicago makes him a newcomer. His birth certificate makes him a veteran. But it’s his story that makes him worth listening to.

Even in the eye of team chaos, Pondexter’s debut with the Bulls had such a special meaning that when he entered the game to start the second quarter, he thought he would come to tears.

Having been out of basketball the last two years after knee surgeries went bad, Pondexter came close to dying in a New York hospital in January when his organs began to fail after a MRSA infection.

Catching MRSA can often lead to death.

“It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. I prayed. My family was there close to me. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. It’s all God. This journey has been amazing.”

His journey took him from being in New Orleans, where his knee troubles started, to being an addition to the Bulls in a trade months ago when the Bulls picked up cash and a second-round pick from the Pelicans.

Pondexter joined high school teammate and close friend Robin Lopez on a team needing some leadership, and due to the punch Bobby Portis threw to Nikola Mirotic Tuesday afternoon, it put Pondexter in position to get on the floor as a backup power forward behind rookie Lauri Markkanen.

If the Bulls were smart, they’d probably put Pondexter in a room to talk to his teammates about his struggles, especially the two teammates who may have to share the same floor in several weeks.

“The competitive nature of our team has been really terrific and we wouldn't want to trade that for anything,” Pondexter said. “It hurts those two guys aren't here right now. But we love them and we love what they brought to this team.

“I think my age on my ID solidifies me as one of the veterans. When you do things the right way, that's what it means to be a veteran. Show up first, last one there. That's what it means to be a veteran. Establishing myself there and doing things that are right, the guys have followed and listened and embraced me and I love it.”

No word on whether Pondexter got teary-eyed when he got a breakaway steal and dunk for his first points since the 2015 playoffs, when the Pelicans were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Warriors.

“I know I’m going to get emotional on the court later on and probably tear up,” Pondexter said after the morning shootaround. “I told Robin that a thousand times. People don’t know what you’ve been through. There are a lot of times they’re not there besides your close family and friends. I appreciate them carrying me through this whole process.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg can relate to Pondexter, with Hoiberg’s heart ailment cutting his career short. When the Bulls coach speaks about the frailty of the game and how precious things are in the NBA, Pondexter is living, breathing proof.

“I’m really really happy for Quincy. For a time there, his life was in danger with his infection. I know he’s really excited to get his career going again,” Hoiberg said. “I never got that opportunity to get back out there. I tell these guys to cherish it ever day. You never know when it can end. All of a sudden. For Quincy to get this chance, it’s awesome.”

Pondexter, with the straightest of faces, called basketball his “obsession” and he felt happy to get back on the floor, if even for a few minutes.

“I love it to death. It’s my life,” Pondexter said. “Basketball is what got me through it---my family and basketball. It was like, ‘How can I make this story even better? Do I quit?’ No. I watched so many inspirational movies, 'Hacksaw Ridge.' They get you through tough times because you say, ‘That’s going to be me.’ I’m going to be able to inspire someone down the road. That’s really helped me.”

A hamstring injury slowed Pondexter in training camp, which would explain his lack of explosive lift in the season opener.

No one was really sure if the Bulls would hold onto him for the season, but it’s clear he holds value beyond the box score. When he finished his media session, Lopez turned to Pondexter and said, “Now you’re stuck with me”, putting his arm around his teammate.

“Being able to play after two and a half years, it feels like hundreds of surgeries, getting traded to this organization. It's been a lot,” Pondexter said. “I wouldn't trade any of that for this moment right now and how I feel in my heart. I can't wait to get on this floor and play with my teammates and try to do something special. The journey is worth it.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Trounced by Raptors in season opener

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Trounced by Raptors in season opener

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Will Perdue break down the Bulls season opener vs the Raptors. They’ll explain why Bulls fans should be very happy with the debut of rookie Lauri Markkanen and Kendall points out why he expects the Markkanen/Lavine combo to be great on the offensive end. They’ll also go over their concerns at point guard, and Will shares his story of how Greg Popovich dealt with a losing Spurs team in 1996-97.