In troubling Chicago Bulls tradition, the team allowed Mike James to play on a sprained MCL

Everyone here is well aware of the Chicago Bulls medical and training staff, right? The ones that cleared former center Omer Asik to play with a broken fibula during the 2011 playoffs? The one that listed Luol Deng as “day to day” after a spinal tap, before then selling him out to the media and fans before reportedly ignoring him during the summer months that followed? The ones that thought it was just fine to push Joakim Noah’s feet for 40 minutes a game last season in spite of his history with plantar fasciitis? Before he had to sit for most of the second half of the season after developing, you guessed it, plantar fasciitis? The team that put both Noah and guard Jimmy Butler back into games with what should have been obvious, debilitating injuries?

Well, that award-winning staff is at it again. With Derrick Rose once again out and veteran guard Mike James eclipsing second-year guard Marquis Teague in the Chicago rotation, the Bulls thought it best to designate Teague to the D-League’s Iowa Energy for seasoning in an attempt to rebuild his fractured game. A sound move, as the Bulls badly need the young guard to eventually move past James in the Chicago rotation at some point. Teague immediately returned to the Bulls, though, once it was learned that James had suffered a sprained MCL.

One the training staff let him play on. Because “Bulls,” that’s why. From K.C. Johnson at the Chicago Tribune:

But sources said Teague got recalled before landing because an MRI revealed veteran point guard Mike James suffered a sprained MCL before Monday's triple overtime loss to the Pelicans. James still gritted out 10 minutes.

James is expected to miss one to two weeks, gift-wrapping another opportunity for Teague.

As Tom Ziller at SB Nation was the first to point out, James is a veteran who is working from contract to contract, possibly lucky to be in the league at this point in spite of a solid career as a journeyman scoring point guard. So of course, faced with his last opportunity at working as a counted-on backup with Rose out and Teague flailing away, James is going to tell the training staff that he can give it a go.

That’s not the point. The point is that the Chicago Bulls training and coaching staff, once again, failed to overrule a player that was working with an injury that should see a second of court time. Most NBA players, despite whatever money-grubbing stereotypes some comment sections may like prattling on about, will work this way – and the Bulls are full of players, by design, that want to play this way.

That doesn’t mean this way is the smart way. A sprained MCL is no joke, as evidenced by the (possibly optimistic) “one to two weeks”-timeframe for return. The Chicago Bulls training staff, and by extension the team’s coaching staff and front office, doesn’t seem to mind letting the player make the final call.

When it should never, ever be the player making that decision. Until a licensed doctor makes an NBA roster, at least.

- - - - - - -

Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!