Of all the players in the NBA — considering the context of his career, his age, his upbringing, and what he's currently working through — it's possible that only Derrick Rose could turn something as crass as a product launch into a memorable and touching event. In a gathering created to promote the launch of Rose's newest line of sneakers (ostensibly to sell shoes, but basically a move by the company to exploit the drama behind his debilitating injury), Derrick took the time in an impromptu discussion to thank his family, his city, his fans and his faith after he broke down following the viewing of a promotional clip that detailed his 4 1/2-month rehabilitation from knee surgery.
That video, and Rose's reaction, can be found here:
Rose torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee following a jump stop late in his Chicago Bulls' Game 1 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in the last April's postseason. The torn ACL knocked him out for the rest of the playoffs and more than likely half of the upcoming 2012-13 season, a cruel blow to a Bulls team that had either earned or tied for the best record in the NBA over the last two seasons, and for a brilliant player in Rose that followed up an MVP turn in 2010-11 with a gutty and injury-plagued 2011-12 campaign.
Due to the timing of Rose's injury and various payroll vicissitudes that his team was working through, the Bulls embarked on an uneasy rebuilding process of sorts in order to avoid paying the luxury tax (despite the franchise's standing as one of the more profitable teams in the NBA) following the end of Rose's season.
Because Rose won't return until the second half of 2012-13, and likely won't be at full strength until the 2013-14 season sparks up, the team took a hammer to the fabled reserve unit that kept Chicago afloat these last two seasons; a partially understandable maneuver had the team executed it properly. Because of a slip-up in signing Rose's replacement in Kirk Hinrich, the team may have cost itself more financial heartache, and it will have to wait until pro-rated contracts set in three months from now in order to add to its dwindling depth without breaking various salary cap rules.
None of this was likely on Derrick's mind as he watched his rehab video. Here is the transcript that followed the shoe company rep's tactful but uneasy initial question to D-Rose:
"It's truly a blessing. With all of the stuff that's going on in this city, a kid from Englewood has got something positive going on. That makes me feel so good. This shoe is great; all this is great. But I can't explain this. I can't. I went through so much. To have, like, true fans, that means a lot to me. And I know it means a lot to my family, because we're not supposed to be here -- at all. But God made the way."
It's a difficult watch, especially for Bulls fans that still have a hard time taking in the video of Rose's injury from last April, and the painful rebuilding (plenty of core work, Derrick points out) that followed. Rehabilitation that will continue to go on through the autumn and winter. Rose has come far, to be sure, but he still has months — possibly over a year — to go until he'll be back to the sort of player that had the confidence and ability to initiate that jump stop against the 76ers last spring. ACL tears are that significant.
Baby steps, and grown man tears. Strong stuff, throughout.
Yahoo! Sports Minute
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