RIO DE JANEIRO – Sore groin or not, Joakim Noah had a plan for the Bulls’ arrival in Brazil.
“I had my bathing suit under my outfit on the plane, and I went straight to the beach and went for a swim,” the free-spirited All-Star center said.
The Bulls’ team hotel is across the street from the famous Copacabana Beach, and Noah’s act seemed to foreshadow what was to come.
After missing the first two exhibitions, Noah moved freely and easily through the portion of Wednesday’s conditioning practice that reporters viewed.
However, neither Noah nor coach Tom Thibodeau would fully commit to Noah playing Saturday against the Wizards, the stated goal last week.
“I feel better, but it’s still not 100 percent,” Noah said. “I’ll try to get to 100 percent before I get out there. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go Saturday.”
Thibodeau has made it clear that Noah must experience contact practices before playing. The Bulls had one such practice scheduled for Thursday, and another one today.
“I don’t want to jump ahead,” Thibodeau said. “He has done a very good job of being patient and putting his work in. We’ll see where he is after the next 2 days, and then make that decision. We’re pleased with the way he is moving. I want to see him take some contact on it before we take that next step.”
Full bloom: Naturally, the Bulls and Derrick Rose got deluged with questions from Brazilian reporters about Rose’s return. Thibodeau summarized it perhaps most eloquently.
“We’re thrilled that he’s back,” he said. “And it’s a lot more than him just being a great basketball player. It’s the type of person he is also. He’s an incredibly humble person, a team-first guy.
“His talent speaks for itself. But how he makes the game easier for his teammates, how he interacts with his teammates, how he helps lead and unite and inspire our team is what makes him so special.”
Family affair: Carlos Boozer flew his parents, Carlos Sr. and Renee, here.
“No-brainer,” Boozer said. “I asked them if they wanted to come and they were like, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ I’m happy to have my parents with me. We’ve never been to Brazil, so we’ll experience a lot together. It’s exciting. I want a taste of Brazil.”