I generally couldn’t care less about players who aren’t, you know…playing. Whether that’s because of suspension, personal leave, benching, injury, paternity leave, pain or rehab (physical and/or mental), if they’re not on the court, field or ice, their actions don’t warrant my attention, as a mere fan. Since I don’t personally know any of these people, their private dealings are none of my business, either. Hell, I’ve got enough of my own shit to worry about. One of the advantages of today’s media is that the average sports fan has become much more knowledgeable than ever before. We know probably a little too much, if you ask some people. This certainly extends itself to injuries. Now that we have surgery dates and rehab starts and recovery timetables, we are suddenly all medical school graduates. Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is our latest patient.
Here we are, on May 5th, 2013. The fifth-seeded Chicago Bulls won their first road Game 7 in franchise history over the fourth-seeded Brooklyn Nets last night at the Barclays Center, 99-93. Brooklyn boy and Bulls center Joakim Noah did his part to back up his guarantee that the Bulls would win the series, with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks, including 5 of opposing center Brook Lopez. Wing man Jimmy Butler wasn’t much of a factor offensively, but he held Nets point guard Deron Williams and shooting guard Joe Johnson to a combined 4-15 shooting from the field when guarding them. Shooting guard Marco Belinelli showed up, Booz scored 17, Nate did Nate shit, Daequan Cook and Marquis Teague came up huge in a short period of time…basically, every Bull that registered game time contributed somehow. Rip Hamilton, you are a waste of basketball space. Go home.
Somehow, the Bulls were able to dispatch a team that was “heavily favored” to win their first-round series and their reward is a second round series with the NBA’s defending champion, Miami Heat. The Heat swept their first round series with the Milwaukee Bucks a week ago and await a Bulls team hoping to play with all of its parts in working order. Again: “a Bulls team hoping to play with all of its parts in working order.”
This is where Derrick Rose factors in. I don’t care about the anniversary of his injury or surgery. I especially never cared for any of those “The Return” commercials. Rose is returning from a torn ACL, not a horrific plane crash in which he broke every bone in his body, was a quadriplegic for six months and had to learn how to do everything–including love–all over again. After a few seconds of the first commercial, I was done. I don’t even like Adidas. Go away, media, and take your redundant questions of his return with you. I honestly feel for head coach Tom Thibodeau, because he wants to talk basketball, not a guy who is technically still rehabilitating a torn ACL. Rose could put an end to all of this by simply announcing his return before tomorrow night’s game in South Beach…or by confirming what most people think, which is that he won’t suit up for the Bulls until the 13-14 season starts.
As someone who grew up during the Bulls dynasty, this is a somewhat odd thing to write, but this year’s Bulls team has been my second favorite, behind the 95-96 team that won 72 games. Noah showed up huge before being felled by some nagging injuries. Booz played well all year. Hinrich was bad, then not so bad. NATE! MARCO! Yes, I loved the Jimmy Butler draft pick from jump. Thanks for being so consistently above-average, Lu. You suck, Rip. No Derrick Rose? No problem. The 2012-13 Bulls team just kept grinding, even after blowing huge fourth quarter leads, losing to “inferior” opponents, going on without players due to injury, and dealing with questions about their absent former MVP. They found a way to nab the five seed, and then ignore the overstuffed wallets of the Nets to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Derrick Rose is dunking off of his left foot, among other things that he needs to do to be on the basketball court as a productive player. This latest news about regaining muscle memory…come on. I’m not a practicing physician and won’t question his physical or mental fortitude, either. But, exactly what in the hell is he waiting for? I’m sure he followed all 82 games of the regular season and we’ve seen him on the bench in his snazzy suits this postseason. He must have noticed how hard his teammates are fighting, and that possibly, this is one of the few actual occasions in sports in which a team really is “one player away” from winning a title. Hinrich, who missed Game 7 with a badly injured calf, will be on the floor for Game 1 of the second round and assumedly, so will Deng, who missed Game 7 because of severe illness. Ahem, Derrick. This Bulls team will rebound and defend no matter who suits up for them, but the added scoring punch of even 25-30 minutes from Rose could put them over the top. The Heat, despite the incessant slurping, aren’t without flaw. They are the worst rebounding team in the league and heavily rely on LeBron James to essentially make them function like a good NBA team.
I won’t abandon or remotely dislike Rose if I don’t see him play again until the 2013-14 season, but I am confused, admittedly. It is beyond me why he hasn’t returned yet, but this is about as good a time for him to do so as any. It doesn’t faze me that this would be a great story, which it definitely would. This Bulls team will give the Heat a real fight without Rose, so with him, anyone with a fully functioning brain has got to kind of, sort of, maybe, possibly like their chances to beat Miami in a best-of-seven.
Without Rose, I don’t think the Bulls will have enough scoring to advance past the Heat, unless everyone who suits up defends out of their gourd. This includes Belinelli, Booz and Nate, too. With an uninhibited Rose, there’s no way the Bulls don’t annihilate the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals before an epic showdown with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. Yeah. That.