It turns out all of this was for naught. The extra precaution, the indecisiveness, the anticipation, the campaign ads, and the false sense of hope and blind faith among his most devoted followers were all for nothing. Derrick Rose‘s triumphant return to basketball for the 2013-2014 season was cut short after only 11 games. Rose will be out indefinitely after a recent MRI showed a torn meniscus in his right knee that will require surgery.
Last season, outside of the Dwight Howard saga in Los Angeles, the biggest running gag in the National Basketball Association was attempting to guess when Rose would finally come back from knee surgery, which I chronicled after the Chicago Bulls were eliminated from last season’s playoffs. To recap, after Rose was medically cleared to return to live NBA action, the consensus was that he would return sometime in the spring of 2013, well before postseason action would commence.
Unfortunately, a running feud between the organization and people from Rose’s camp led to controversy about Rose’s intentions apropos to his season debut. Meanwhile, Rose did nothing to dispel the rumors of his return. He actually added fuel and validity to those rumors by refusing to make a conscious decision about his possible return date.
Every game the Bulls were getting ready to play, there was Rose, traveling with the team, going through pregame warm-ups and rituals. Every game left on the schedule was an opportunity to see Rose finally play a real game and make a statement to the NBA: “I am back and stronger than ever,” or something to that effect. The teams would head back into their respective locker rooms. The house lights would then be turned off and the public address announcer would introduce the starting lineups for that night’s contest. When the lights were turned back on and the smoke from the pyrotechnics made their way to the top of the arena, there was Rose sitting on the bench–usually wearing what looked to be a very expensive suit, sometimes accompanied by a matching tie.
That scenario would repeat itself for the rest of the year and continue into the playoffs. Each game, fans would anxiously await to see if the next game would be the game that Rose finally comes back. Each passing game was met with much hype. And each game that passed by, Rose failed to meet that hype. Each time he failed to meet the hype, anticipation would turn into disappointment.
It’s understandable that each player is different and Rose is the one that has to decide what’s best for him (even though his camp was a major influence in his decision-making). Nevertheless, it’s hard to be patient with a patient that was given the thumbs up from his doctor. Dr. Brian Cole, the surgeon that performed Rose’s surgery on his left knee, explained that:
I think there’s actually a lot of therapeutic benefit to starting with early minutes when it’s safe… You have to play to play. All these muscle patterns have to kick in. You can do that off the court informally, but there’s a lot of benefit to playing.
Why a player that was dominant during practice, dunking during pregame warm-ups, and given the green light to play, per Doctor’s orders, continued to refuse to return from injury will continue to baffle me. There’s usually debates about players coming back too early from serious injury or surgery and as often the case, teams, fans, and critics alike would agree that siding on the side of caution and giving a player more time to recover is never a bad idea. But the consensus is that the player should eventually play soon after he was medically cleared to do so. Rose decided that the best option was to give himself more time to recover and start fresh for this upcoming season.
Of course, the major irony in all of this is that despite the extended recovery time, Rose ends up injuring his right knee anyway. So now another surgery has to take place. Another rehab plan has to be planned out. Another cycle of anticipation, indecisiveness, and campaign ads will begin anew. “Rose Watch” has been picked up for second season. The silver lining in all of this, however, is if you like a few cheap laughs, the Derrick Rose memes will be making a comeback. Here’s a list of things that will occur before Derrick Rose comes back:
- The Chicago Cubs or the Houston Astros will make the playoffs
- Jay Cutler will return to the Chicago Bears next season.
- The Los Angeles Lakers will make the NBA playoffs
- Pitchers and catchers will report in time for the upcoming Major League Baseball season
- Manti Te’o will have a girlfriend
- Sydney Crosby will suffer another major injury and still come back to play sometime this season
- Speaking of hockey, the National Hockey League will shut down for the 2014 Winter Olympics and still come back within the same calendar year.
- College Basketball’s top freshmen will declare their intentions to enter the 2014 NBA Draft
- Roy Halladay will pitch again
And the list is full of infinite possibilities.
As a Bulls’ fan, I’m hoping Derrick Rose has a speedy recovery (key word here is “speedy”). I’m hoping that he will adapt his game so he’s not continuing to sustain the punishment he receives as the Bulls’ primary scorer. I’m hoping he comes back stronger than ever. Most importantly, I’m hoping he takes a different approach to his recovery because the one he utilized last season did not work. Hopefully for next time, he will be open to the idea of playing “to play.”