Joakim Noah Suffers Nasty Ankle Sprain, Leaves Arena on Crutches

Holly MacKenzieNBA Lead BloggerMay 4, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01:  Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls celebrates hitting a shot against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on May 1, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Sometimes you need to protect your players from themselves. 

Midway through the third quarter on Friday night, Joakim Noah took off toward the basket and came down on Andre Iguodala's foot, rolling his ankle grotesquely. He immediately went down clutching his ankle. It was a gross sprain.

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After trying to play through the pain once, but having to leave, he returned to action to try it again. Ultimately, he was unable to put any weight on his ankle and had to be taken out of the game.

Chicago Tribune writer Vaughn McClure tweeted that Noah was struggling on crutches after the game. Bulls beat writer K.C. Johnson tweeted that he heard a doctor ask for an air cast for Noah. 

This is bad, bad news for Bulls fans. 

While the heart and toughness of Noah should be celebrated, but he never should have been on the floor after that initial sprain. He most certainly should not have been there after his first attempt to play through the pain.

Tom Thibodeau has taken heat all season for the amount of minutes he's played his guys. While the minutes are one thing, this is another. Whether it's Thibodeau or another member of the Bulls training staff, someone needs to step in and protect Noah from causing himself further injury.

It's been a rough postseason thus far. With Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert going down on day one of the playoffs with torn ACLs, Josh Smith's sprained knee, Amar'e Stoudemire's incident with the fire extinguisher and now Noah's ankle, there have been a lot of guys going down in the early stages of playoffs.

Regardless of what your stance is on whether this condensed schedule is impacting the health of guys, when a competitor goes down, sometimes he needs someone else to determine whether it's worth it to try to return.

Tonight Noah didn't have that and it wasn't worth it. As a result, the Bulls will likely pay the price.