Tom Thibodeau's Use of Joakim Noah Calls out Questions About Chicago Bulls Coach

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIMay 5, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 04: Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls walks off the court after rolling his ankle in the 79-74 loss to the 76ers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 4, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers won 79-74. 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 Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

You would think he would have learned his lesson with Derrick Rose last week, but when Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau put Joakim Noah back in the game in the fourth quarter after rolling his ankle, you have to question whether this guy is dangerous for his players.

Watching Noah limp back to the bench after the trainer checked him out, there was no way I thought he would come back into the game, but lo and behold, a few minutes later, there's Noah struggling to get up the court.

He wanted to go back in, so instead of the coach being the sensible one, we have Kamikaze Tom doing suicide drills with his star players.

Anyone could see Noah could barely walk, so how do you rationalize putting him back on the court? Does he want him to join Rose and probably Luol Deng in rehab next season?

I cursed at the screen and was about to throw my remote at the TV when Noah went back in, but since I just finished paying it off, I used better judgement than the coach.

If that's the way Thibodeau handles multi-million dollar merchandise, you have to ask if you want him to continue in the job.

It's not like his coaching come the playoffs warrants it.

He insists on pushing his players to the brink of exhaustion during the season, not understanding the playoffs is what's really important.

He lost the Coach of the Year award to Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs this week, and that's appropriate. It went to the right guy, because Popovich's priority is resting his players and having them ready for the playoffs.

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls gives instructions to Joakim Noah #13 against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 28,
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Even though he has a deep bench, he did the same thing in the game Friday against Philadelphia. He played the starters until their tounges were hanging out.

Ronnie Brewer, for some reason, never left the bench.

He kept his pet, John Lucas, in the game despite his penchant for dribbling and dribbling until the shot clock runs down before a bail-out shot. Mike James, who proved he could run the offense in limited time this season, rotted on the bench while Thibodeau's stubbornness sunk the team.

So far his tenure in Chicago is as a great regular-season coach who is a bust in the postseason.

The Sixers played poorly. The Bulls beat them on the offensive boards. They lost several key possessions when the ball just slipped out of their hands, and for the game they shot just .342 from the field, yet they won the game.

The Bulls were up by 14 points with just 10:15 left in the game when Rip Hamilton popped in a three. At the time, I said, "Game over, there's no way Philly can come back."

I was wrong.

My thinking was they couldn't put any offense together all night and are not a very good offensive team, while the Bulls are a defensive juggernaut. Using that knowledge, I didn't think they could overcome that deficit.

But I forgot one thing: Doug Collins is coaching Philadelphia, and while he can find a way, Thibodeau is just lost.

The Sixers started attacking the basket and drawing fouls while the Bulls settled for shots from the perimeter.They edged back into the game, and when Spencer Hawes put in a long two with 2:12 left, Philadelphia was suddenly ahead and the Bulls were chasing.

They didn't make good decisions with the ball, along with Chicago native and nemesis Evan Turner out-hustling them and drawing a foul to put them up by three.

That, as they say, was all she wrote, and the Bulls lost a game they should have won.

Thibodeau is reckless and stubborn to a fault. He doesn't understand the importance of rest for his players, and he doesn't adjust well on the fly.

He believes hard work can overcome anything, but the teams that were hardly working during the season like Miami are rolling, while the Bulls are on the brink of being one of the few No. 1 seeds to fall to an eighth if they lose Sunday.

With all the injuries the Bulls have suffered this year, you have to question the trainers along with the coach. The fact they allowed Noah to return is beyond stupid. Didn't they have him try running in the tunnel before he came back out to the court? I would assume not, since he could barely walk. 

The ultimate blame still falls on Thibodeau, though. He didn't have to put him in the game. The fact he did should give caution to the Bulls brass when negotiating a new contract with him.  

Poor coaching and poor judgement are not valued commodities, and he's excelling at both.

Despite injuries, there are no excuses, because as is Thibodeau's mantra, "We have more than enough." He says it all the time, and I think he believes it.

I believe in the Easter bunny, but I no longer believe in Thibodeau.