Basketball fans the world over got a cool, heartening surprise on Wednesday when adidas Basketball dropped a video — presumably the first in a series — depicting All-Star Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose feverishly working out to rehabilitate his surgically repaired right knee, which he injured during the opening game of the Bulls' 2011-12 postseason run.
But the workout footage wasn't the only Rose video to hit the Web on Wednesday. CSNChicago.com's Aggrey Sam released the first part of "an exclusive, wide-ranging interview" with Rose, conducted last month in Los Angeles, in which the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player talks openly and in some depth about the anterior cruciate ligament tear that ended his season and will keep him on the shelf well into the upcoming campaign.
This one's a little less heartwarming, due in large part to Rose's detailed recollection of the injury and its aftermath, which is fairly bracing. From Sam:
"I remember it," he recalled. "I remember everything. I remember jumping in the air and coming back down, and just that popping sound. I felt it actually tear when I laid all the way out and it just let go.
"I didn't have that much pain after that. In the beginning I did, but I didn't want to yell or anything. When that happened, all I could think about was people just talking. You could hear the whole arena, people just whispering all around — one of the things, like 'Not again. Come on, man. First game back. We had the win' — and I was just hoping [it was] nothing serious," Rose continued. "Then, we got to the hospital, got in the MRI machine, the whole time praying.
"Dr. [Brian] Cole, the Bulls doctor [who also performed the subsequent surgery], came up to me and told me it was torn. I couldn't believe it. That's the closest thing to death, the closest to death I've got to right there, where it just seemed like the wind and everything was taken out [of me]."
Rose wasn't alone in that breathless feeling; my main memory of the moments after Rose's fateful jump stop is gasping, getting up off my couch, standing with my hands on my head and saying, "Oh, God." (I suspect many other viewers, and especially red-and-black partisans, had a similar experience.) The combination of Rose's exit and Joakim Noah's later left-ankle sprain (which was severe enough to keep him out of the Olympics a full three months later) also wound up taking the wind out of the Bulls' sails, resulting in the East's top regular-season team falling in six games to the No. 8-seeded in the opening round of the playoffs.
While Chicago fans won't like reliving the moment when the dream of a '11-'12 title (and, given Rose's absence and the Bulls' financially motivated dismantling of the league's best bench this offseason, likely any hope for '12-'13, too) went up in smoke, Sam's interview does contain some positive news for Bulls backers.
For one thing, Rose said he was "definitely two or three weeks ahead of where I'm supposed to be" in his rehabilitation efforts, a timeline that would have put him back on the court for some light workouts this week, which he is. He's still not expected to be back to full steam until at least the All-Star break in February, but, y'know, so far, so good.
While he remains understandably "worried about [his] knee," Rose took a silver-lining view in talking to Sam:
"It's definitely different, starting from the beginning all over again, but I look at it as a blessing. It could be worse. This injury could have stopped me from playing basketball. Thank God I'm still walking, thank God I made it back as soon as possible," Rose said.
NBA fans who briefly feared that one of the game's truly staggering young talents was lost are thankful, too. That said, though: Not "as soon as possible," Derrick. "As soon as you're really, honest-to-goodness ready," please. As it turns out, the waiting isn't the hardest part; the helpless, breathless watching is.
Hat-tip to ESPNChicago.com.