Play or rest?
Noah deserves a short appearance
If playing 10 minutes (which is what backup center Roy Hibbert logged in last year's game) in an exhibition game is going to harm Joakim Noah's aching foot, he shouldn't be playing right now as it is.
But if he's willing and able to play in the All-Star Game, it should be his decision, and I hope he plays.
I understand the reasoning of his resting during the break, and I would implore him to stay off his feet and out of the clubs during his off time in Houston, but I trust Noah's judgment because it's his body and his life.
I'm all for treating professional athletes as, you know, adults and people capable of making their own decisions.
Making the All-Star team is a major accomplishment, more than actually playing in the game, so I don't think he would mind a glorified cameo role, just to be safe. Luol Deng played only six minutes last year in his first appearance. But being introduced as an All-Star was his highlight, as he wore a shirt bearing the outline of Africa.
Speaking of Deng, how much time was wasted on his decision to play in the Olympics? He said he wanted to do it and refused to be talked out of it by popular opinion. He seems fine to me, considering he's also an All-Star and is leading the NBA in minutes. (That's a different complaint.)
Noah's injury, plantar fasciitis, is trickier than Deng's wrist injury, to be sure, which means the team and Noah need to make sure he can play through it now as he logs close to 40 minutes a night.
If the Bulls were really being mindful of Noah's health, they wouldn't have let Omer Asik leave -- I know, I know, financial flexibility -- knowing they couldn't spend heavily on a replacement. Of course with Asik around, Noah probably wouldn't be on the All-Star team.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
Game an honor, title would be better
Joakim Noah badly wants to play in this weekend's All-Star Game. He wants the honor for himself, his family, his close friends and all the people who always told him he would never get there.
The Chicago Bulls center has worked hard over the years to become more than just an "energy player." He's spent countless hours in the gym trying to redefine his body. He's worked tirelessly on improving his shot. Noah's critics motivated him to a point where he finally reached the level he always knew he could -- one of the best players in basketball.
He's already earned his first All-Star recognition, and that's why it won't be as difficult for him to make the the decision to sit on the bench for the game itself. As much as Noah may love an individual honor, he -- even more than most -- understands that players are usually remembered more for their team accomplishments. Noah went down in college basketball history because he won back-to-back national championships at Florida, not because he was one of the best centers in his class.
It will hurt Noah not to be able to play in the All-Star Game, but not nearly as much as it would hurt him to miss games down the stretch of the season. The plantar fasciitis in his right foot continues to bother him, and he understands that the only thing that has been known to make that injury better consistently is rest. Noah would be making a large personal sacrifice to pass up the All-Star Game, but it would be worth it to him if it helped ensure he could be out there with his teammates when the games matter most.
Noah knows that while an All-Star appearance is terrific, it's all about the gold trophy at the end of the season. If a little rest now helps in the quest for an NBA championship later, then so be it.
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPN Chicago.