In 2011 Derrick Rose won the NBA’s MVP award. Last season he led the Bulls to a league best 50-16 record, and the #1 seed in the East. A little over a year ago he tore his ACL in the first game of the 2012 playoffs, and Chicago lost to Philly in the first round (opening the door for the Celtics to reach the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami). I’m not going to point out how long it’s taking him to come back compared to other athletes, but I will say this:
As of today it’s now been two months since Rose was medically cleared to play. Not practice, that happened in January, I mean play. In real live NBA games. At the time he said he was waiting until he could confidently dunk jumping with his surgically repaired left knee. A little over a month ago the reports starting coming out that he was “dominating practice,” and here’s a video of him dunking off his left leg in early April.
Somehow the 5th seeded Bulls managed to get by the Nets in Round 1 on the road in 7 games. Their second best player, Luol Deng, is still in the hospital recovering from a spinal tap. Starting center Joakim Noah has plantar fasciitis and can hardly walk sometimes, but has been playing anyway. Rose’s backup, point guard Kirk Hinrich, is out with a calf injury.
Monday night Chicago pulled off a stunning upset in Miami, taking a 1-0 lead over the Heat. Third string PG Nate Robinson got hit in the mouth by LeBron (unintentionally) in the first half, causing him to get 10 stitches. But Robinson stayed in the game, in part because the Bulls have no other options left.
Hollywood screenwriters could not script a better time for Rose to return. But he won’t. Does he not see an incredible opportunity here? Does he not want to be a hero? Everything I know about athletes and competitive sports makes his decision to continue sitting almost unfathomable. My guess is he decided a long time ago that he wasn’t coming back this year, and never imagined his team would get this far without him. Now he just looks like a chump.
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