Injured Joakim Noah off French team
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah will not play for France at the London Olympics because of the left ankle injury he sustained during the NBA playoffs. Noah told L'Equipe he was "absolutely not ready. Not ready to run, not ready to jump."
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Noah severely sprained his left ankle in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers in early May. He has been rehabbing outside of Los Angeles with his personal trainer Alex Perris, but the pair did not feel comfortable with the idea of playing on an ankle that is still not 100 percent.
"Now that the Olympics are out of the picture, it gives his ankle more time to heal naturally," Perris said in a text message to ESPNChicago.com. "We will be training in New York City and Los Angeles, focusing on speed, explosion and power."
After his end of the season exit interview with Bulls executives, Noah admitted that he wanted to strengthen his ankles in the offseason and that he had "too many ankle injuries throughout the years.
"I'm just frustrated because I really feel like I really worked hard on trying to keep my body right. I feel like the ankle injury was unfortunate. I think just going full speed onto somebody's ankle and landing on somebody's foot, that could have happened to anybody. It's frustrating, but nobody died. You learn from it and move on."
However, Noah was confident his teammates will fare well in London.
"The team is not just me," Noah said. "I know there are other guys who can do a good job.
France's Olympics opener is against the United States on July 29.
Noah becomes the second Bull to pull out of the Olympics because of injury. Derrick Rose had to pull out of the Games because of a torn ACL in his left knee that he suffered in the first game of the playoffs. Luol Deng, who has a torn ligament in his left wrist, has been insistent that he will play for Great Britain in the Olympics and continue to put off surgery.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau recently told "Waddle and Silvy" on ESPN 1000 in Chicago that he expected Deng to be ready for training camp and that there is a plan in place for Deng to continue to play without having the procedure.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.