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Chicago Bulls Center Joakim Noah Needs to Have a Seat Against the Miami Heat

Seersucker or Not, the Big Man Needs to Be in a Suit on Tuesday

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Chicago Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah says he's ready for the 2013-14 season opener against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the rest of the Miami Heat.

Noah is so confident in his recovery from a groin injury that he said after Sunday's practice he is "100 percent," according to ESPN.com's Nick Friedell. He also said that he and the rest of his Bulls teammates are "hungry." Simply put, he wants to take the Heat down.

Fans appreciate that, and, make no mistake, for the Bulls to have a realistic chance at winning their opener, Noah will need to be on the floor, performing at a high level. That said, playing versus the Heat is not the best idea.

He needs to put on a suit and sit this one out.

Noah shouldn't need to be reminded why playing in the opener is not in the team's best interest. He gave himself the best reason possible last April.

"I'm upset at myself because I let this linger for a long time, and I have nobody to blame but myself," Noah said before the Bulls' first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs last year, according to ESPN.com's Nick Friedell. "I just wish that I was a little bit smarter," he continued while adding that there were times he made the wrong decision last year and took the court during the regular season.

Of course, Noah proved his doubters wrong. He ended up playing in every postseason contest last year, averaging 34.1 minutes, 10.8 points, and 9.6 rebounds per game. He cannot tempt fate this time around and expect to find the same level of success over the course of 82 games. The Bulls need him at 100 percent in April, May, and June -- not October.

Yes, the opener is against the Heat. And, yes, every matchup with the reigning NBA champions carries more weight than a tilt with the Minnesota Timberwolves in December. That is not the point, though. Even if his groin feels good now, he may not be ready to return to the court. The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson correctly noted that "Noah's game, both offensively and defensively, is built on game conditioning."

Truer words were never written. He is not the most fluid of basketball players. Noah hustles. He works harder than the next guy. It is what has allowed him to find the success he has with the Bulls and in the NBA. It is also one of the things the fans appreciate most about the energetic center.

His style of play -- and lack of conditioning -- brings up a very important question, though. Isn't it realistic to assume that if he pushes himself through his current limitations, he risks re-injuring his groin or aggravating his nagging problem with plantar fasciitis? Yes it is.

Groin injuries are tricky. They can be as problematic as plantar fasciitis. All it takes is one strong move to the right or left with improper balance, and he is back to square one. Remember that the injury caused him to miss all but one of the Bulls' eight preseason games.

To be sure, it is not be entirely fair to inject his recurring foot problem into the conversation. The larger point remains, however. He tries to play through injuries and ends up costing himself -- and the Bulls -- in the long run.

Noah was quoted by Johnson saying that the Bulls have "got to think big picture" this season. That's the ticket, Joakim. It is going to be a long season.

You need to take a step back from the situation, control your enthusiasm to beat the Heat, and think about the potential long-term implications of your actions.

The Bulls need you. Just not on Tuesday.

Have a seat, sir.

In addition to contributing to Yahoo, Matthew Smith is the Chicago White Sox Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow his misadventures on Twitter @MatthewSmithBR and on Google +.

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