TORONTO (WSCR) – The Chicago Bulls got some bad news Wednesday night after team doctors examined the right thumb of starting center Joakim Noah and determined he will have to undergo surgery to repair a torn ulna collateral ligament. This could leave Noah sidelined for up to ten weeks.
The surgery will be performed Thursday morning by Dr. Mark Cohen and Dr. John Fernandez of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center.
Noah was first injured in the Nov. 27 game at Sacramento, and he has played the last two weeks with ongoing discomfort and slight functional impairment. Additionally, Noah has had significant sprains of his right index and middle fingers, which will not require surgery.
The star center did play Wednesday against the Raptors because team physicians determined Noah couldn’t make the injury worse.
“Joakim’s injury presentation was unusual in that he was able to function at a high level with the injury. More often, athletes are unable to play at all due to pain and instability of the thumb,” said Chicago Bulls Head Team Physician Brian Cole.
“As the days proceeded from the original injury, it became clear for all that surgery was best for Joakim,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “We have always valued Joakim’s toughness and willingness to put the team above himself, but in this case his health took precedence.”
Noah has started every Bulls game this year, and entering tonight’s game at Toronto, he had averaged 14.2 ppg, 11.7 rpg (fifth in the NBA), 2.8 apg, 1.61 bpg (16th), 1.22 spg, 37.2 mpg (18th). He also had shot .511 (28th) from the field and .724 from the free throw line.
Noah also ranked in the top 10 in the NBA in offensive rebounds (third), offensive rebounds per game (fourth), defensive rebounds per game (sixth), total rebounds (sixth), double-doubles (sixth) and defensive rebounds (ninth).