Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah played with knee pain the second half of season


It is very Joakim Noah, very Tom Thibodeau, very Chicago Bulls:

Now that the season is over we are learning the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, the guy that was the fulcrum of the Bulls offense for much of the season, played through a lot of knee pain the second half of the season (according to coach Tom Thibodeau). You could tell Noah was hobbled in Game 5 Tuesday — a Bulls loss to the Wizards that ended Chicago’s season — but he would not come out.

After the game he opened up to Aggrey Sam of

“There’s really no excuses right now. It’s been a long year and yeah, I’ve got things I’ve got to take care of,” Noah said. “My knee. My knee is bothering me. My left knee. I’m not sure what it is, but I was able to play today. I think I was limited a little bit. But it’s no excuses. I’ll check it out, find out what’s wrong and take care of it. And now, we’ve got a lot of time to take care of it.”

Noah then went on to talk about all the things he needs to work on this summer to get better as a player so he is able to lead the Bulls farther next season.

The interesting question is who will be Noah’s teammates in Chicago next season.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.