As the new Managing Editor of Today’s Fastbreak, I was hoping to keep any bias to an absolute minimum. But for one day, I’m going to set that aside and talk about Derrick Rose’s latest knee injury, another right medial meniscus tear that’ll once again require surgery.
I’ve been a Bulls fan basically all my life (since I was five), and watching Derrick Rose rise to become the NBA’s youngest MVP ever at the age of 22 was probably the most fun I’ve ever had as a Bulls supporter. Sure, the second three-peat was obviously great, but I was too young to truly appreciate those championships.
I, like Rose, was 22 when he was named MVP in 2011, and that year simply resonated more with me than those title years. Here was a kid, out of the mean streets of Chicago, coming to be the savior of his hometown team. And he was the same age as me!
With Rose rising, a solid core in place and a brilliant basketball mastermind in Tom Thibodeau at the helm, the Bulls looked poised to be one of the beasts in the Eastern Conference for years to come.
Everybody knows what happened next. Rose struggled through an injury-riddled 2011-12 campaign before suffering a devastating ACL tear in Game 1 of the 2012 postseason. His return to action was hyped up as “The Return” in a series of adidas commercials, only that return didn’t happen as expected, earning the star point guard plenty of scorn for not returning despite being cleared to play. I myself criticized Rose for not listening to the doctors, and it killed me to do so because he was my favorite player in the league.
Rose finally returned to the floor for the 2013-14 season, but disaster struck again in November 2013, as he tore his right medial meniscus and was quickly ruled out for the season to avoid the PR debacle that came with “The Return.” The Bulls looked to be dead in the water after that setback before Joakim Noah took control of the team and willed their way to 49 wins. Of course, Chicago petered out in the first round of the playoffs.
This year was supposed to be different. Rose would hopefully return and actually stay healthy, and with the Bulls’ advanced weaponry around him, they would make a deep playoff run. The team – and Rose himself – showed inconsistency, but at their best, they looked like a title contender.
And now this.
I had just opened up my laptop to write something about Noah starting to look more like himself when I casually checked Twitter like I usually do when I’m writing. Needless to say, I was utterly shocked when I saw this come across my feed:
So, um, Derrick Rose has a tear of the right medial meniscus.
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) February 25, 2015
I was hoping it was some kind of joke. Rose had missed most of practice earlier in the day with some soreness, but he was expected to play against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. I was dreading what would come next on my Twitter timeline, and sure enough, the news came pouring in.
I just couldn’t process it. His first injury was obviously awful, but we saw how bad it was when it happened and knew the prognosis wasn’t good almost immediately. The second injury had a “Oh crap, not again” feel to it. This one came out of nowhere and hit me like a freight train. It’s just sad, knowing how much work Rose has put into fighting his way back into the lineup. And even if his game hadn’t come back to form yet, it appeared he had turned a corner health-wise, as he had strung together a bunch of games after dealing with some nagging injuries early in the season.
As SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell wrote, Derrick Rose doesn’t deserve this. I can’t even begin to imagine what he’s going through, and the mental aspect of all this is one of the more difficult aspects of the recovery process. How do you come back and have faith in your body when this keeps happening to you?
The Bulls will soldier on for the time being with Rose sidelined, and the talent in place still makes them a dangerous team. And who knows, maybe he comes back this season. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports the tear isn’t as severe as the last one, and the type of surgery done on the meniscus will also have an effect on the timetable for his recovery. So before the surgery is done, it’s tough to know what lies in store for the future.
But even if Rose comes back this year, it’s hard for me to be optimistic about the Bulls’ title chances. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about that right now and just hope he can come back this season, because that would be a small silver lining after a third surgery in three years. Keep your fingers crossed.