- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has already started working out and will have the cast taken off his right hand next week. Noah, 25, had surgery on Dec. 17 to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and was expected to miss 8-10 weeks.
"Being injured as an athlete, it sucks," Noah said. "It definitely puts things in perspective. It makes you appreciate the game a little bit more. I think I had to deal with that a little bit last year. But being injured is part of the process. Every athlete goes through it, and it's just how you deal with it."
For the time being, Noah is dealing with it by working out as much as possible. He spent a portion of Tuesday morning running sprints and doing different drills with the Bulls training staff at the Berto Center.
"I've been running," Noah said. "I've been doing some conditioning and doing some lifting. A lot of core work. A lot of leg strengthening. It's hard to make everything game-like. There's nothing like playing in a basketball game. There's nothing you can do to simulate a basketball game. But I'm doing the best I can, even with a cast on."
Noah is looking forward to getting back and getting a chance to develop more chemistry with new power forward Carlos Boozer.
"Carlos is obviously somebody who takes our team to a whole other level," Noah said. "I think that we have a chance to do something special with the pieces that we have here. And I've never played with somebody who's that gifted offensively in the post. I'm very excited to hopefully learn a few things from him. Even when I was playing with him I was hurt. I didn't really have a right hand yet. So I'm excited to play with him when I'm 100 percent healthy."
Noah isn't going to travel with the team to New Jersey or Philadelphia while he continues to rehab at the Berto Center. He is hopeful to start traveling with his teammates soon, though. In the meantime, he has kept busy by serving as a color commentator alongside Neil Funk and Bill Wennington on a Bulls TV broadcast.
"I was actually pretty nervous," Noah admitted. "It's tough. I had to cough at one point, I didn't know that you had to push a button. People are talking in the earpiece. I didn't know you had to keep talking while that was going on. So I had to learn a lot on the fly, but overall people said it was pretty good. I was a little bit worried about it, but it was cool."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
1dMatt Walks, ESPN.com