COMMENTARY | There is one adversary which has proven to be formidable against all professional athletes. It is the injury bug, particularly when attacking the knee. On April 28, this unbiased assailant caught Derrick Rose in its cross hairs and ended what many thought would be a promising NBA Playoff run for the Chicago Bulls. However, after surgery to repair his left anterior cruciate ligament just last May, recent reports state that the superstar point guard has already begun sprinting. With the possibility that Rose may return to practice in just a few weeks, there is reason for hope. The problem is that while the Bulls have not looked awful in the 2012-13 season, glaring voids which Rose may not be able to fill have been exposed.
The Bulls are nothing if not hard working. The team is mostly a collection of individuals who go out nightly and give the game every single thing they've got. Spearheaded by the usual blue collar approach of Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng gutting it out with a bum wrist, no one can say that the Bulls have not offered a valiant effort. So far this season, a record hovering around .500 and a slim Central Division lead have been the result. Not bad at all considering the circumstance.
The Bulls without Rose are fairly equivalent to the Los Angeles Lakers without Kobe Bryant or the Oklahoma City Thunder without Kevin Durant. Rose is that intricate a piece of his team's puzzle, arguably even more so. Considering this, what the Bulls have done thus far in a young season is admirable. But in the end, effort and heart always give way to talent. Here is why, even with the imminent reemergence of Rose, there is cause for concern.
It's not that this current Bulls squad is devoid of capable athletes, it's just that something in addition to Rose seems to be missing. Perhaps it is the sharp-shooting of Kyle Korver, defensive tenacity of Keith Bogans, all-around hustle of Ronnie Brewer, or the ability of C.J. Watson to get buckets. The much celebrated "bench mob" has been decimated, and the play of often maligned forward Carlos Boozer has again left much to be desired. This is not the same caliber a team as it was a year ago.
Of course the Bulls can still make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference where only spots occupied by the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and New York Knicks look to be certain. But then what? A prompt first round exit? Maybe D. Rose can come back good as new and instantly carry them to the promised land. Surely he would love to. But the more logical scenario would suggest that Rose will come back a bit rusty. He will more than likely be eased into the rotation and take some time to regain the rhythm and explosiveness which made him the basketball phenom he undoubtedly had become.
With this in mind, though news of "The Return" is highly welcome, expectations of what it may mean to the Bulls' current season should probably be tempered. Shaun Livingston, Brandon Roy and Greg Oden have all shown that knee issues can be extremely difficult to overcome. Believing that Rose will show up and instantly make it all better may be a little too ambitious. However, if anyone can do it he can.
Rose works exceptionally hard, is notably humble and gracious, but also confident. He believes that he can get it done and has played hero for Chicago several times already-- saving Bulls fans from post-Jordan era depression. He deserves the best case scenario. A scenario where the team upgrades its personnel to give him the help he will never admit to needing. Because although Rose has proven that he can do it all, he cannot do it all at once, all the time. And he deserves to not have to.
In a perfect world, Rose would continue to rapidly progress in his rehab. He would not suffer any setbacks and return to the court as though he never left. The injury that broke him down would be nothing but a distant memory. Rose would rejoin the Bulls midseason with his team on the cusp of greatness; patiently awaiting his unrivaled skill set to get them over the hump. Then again, in a perfect world, such a thing as this would never have happened.
So, instead of hoping for that elusive utopian situation, here's simply hoping that time is on the side of Rose and the odds ever in his favor.
Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls, for Examiner.com. She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.
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- Derrick Rose
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