The NBA, A-through-Z: Derrick Rose

The free agents have just about all been signed up. The NBA is down to a series of Instagram photos from moving yachts and crossed fingers from worried teams hoping their players stay safe in the summer off. There’s nothing going on, save for that clock on the wall that is ticking down to the 2013-14 season.

And it’s moving SO SLOWLY.

This is why we’ve decided to pick 26 things we’re looking forward to in 2013-14. Or, at the very least, 26 things that intrigue us as we wait out an offseason that feels like it has thousands of miles left to cross before we can get to Halloween and opening week. Because there are 26 letters in the alphabet – you guessed, NBA A-through-Z.

We continue with Derrick Rose.

When the NBA’s media day hits in the first week of October, there will be plenty of clicks from worried fans, desperate to get a look at whatever Derrick Rose will be wearing around his surgically repaired left knee. When the Chicago Bulls play the Indiana Pacers in the team’s first exhibition game on Oct. 5, the whole world will be watching – and I’ll be in attendance to cover what will be a pretty significant event. When the NBA’s 2013-14 season tips off with the Chicago Bulls taking on the Miami Heat on Oct. 29, the ratings will be huge. It’s not just Chicago Bulls fans that want to know if a healthy Derrick Rose can lead the Bulls back to acting as Miami’s top threat in the East, and for once all eyes won’t be on LeBron James.

There will be incredible scrutiny. There will be whispers about why, exactly, Derrick Rose went just over 19 months between basketball games after tearing his left ACL, when others managed to come back after nine or ten months. It will take a while for Rose to return to NBA speed. It will take a while for his teammates – some new, and some 19 months removed from playing with him – to adjust. The Bulls, in a deeper Eastern Conference than the one Rose left in April of 2012, could struggle to adapt.

And then it will go away. And soon Rose will hit his stride. And soon we’ll all remember what we need to be thinking about right now, as we count down the days until the league starts up again: Derrick Rose is coming back.

A former MVP, a franchise-shifting talent, the league’s most explosive point guard, a blue collar player with billion-dollar skills, all ready to be added to what is already a very good Chicago Bulls team at no cost. Save for, perhaps, the frustration of the entire, wearying, 2012-13 campaign.

That frustration – the “what’s taking so long?”-edge – has just about gone away. And this is some 11 weeks (sigh) before Rose even plays a game that counts. In a league that is positively giddy about the potential return to form of Danny Granger and Andrew Bynum, the return of someone like Rose should leave NBA fans absolutely beside themselves.

It should also leave them with a string around their collective index finger, reminding ourselves to be patient. It’s a long season, it’s a tricky league, it’s a tough game, and 19 months is a long time to be away. It’s true that ACL returnees have proven to come back no worse for wear in the modern age, but the actual restructuring of the ligament is just one aspect of the recovery. That other 99 percent is likely why Rose declined to act as a savior on the fly in returning to the Bulls last spring. Or, more specific to Chicago, last winter in March.

None of this will matter, by midseason. The world gets to have Derrick Rose back. Lucky us.

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