Wednesday, May 22, 2013

DERRICK ROSE: 2012-13 NBA Summary

Felipe M

I did not want to post an entry on Chicago Bulls' franchise player, Derrick Rose.  I'm so sick of reading about the guy and sharing my comments on the internet that I saw no point in doing so.  Everybody in the world has had their say on the matter.  Adding more content would be like adding fuel to a funeral pyre.  However, as a die-hard Bulls' fan, people are always asking me, around the country, what my opinions are on Derrick Rose and this season.  And a lot of times, there are people, both inside and outside of Chicago, that show how misinformed they are of the situation.  

So, once and for all, I will give my official thoughts on Rose and next time somebody asks me about him, I will just go ahead and share the link to this post.  Like most of you, I hate repeating myself...

At the beginning of the season, I was all for Rose to not come back for this campaign.  After seeing Rose play through a myriad of injuries in the last few seasons, as his style of play and the heavy minutes he gets as the Bulls' point guard AND primary scorer have been the main culprits in preventing Rose from properly recovering from his various ailments, I thought the best thing for his reconstructed knee was for him to take the year off.  From a cynic's standpoint, Rose injuring his knee against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs was probably the best thing to happen to his health.  It would at least help him recover from his other physical ailments.  Remember, after the Bulls' playoff run would inevitably finish (whether in the 1st round or in the NBA Finals), Rose was 100% intent on playing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  So as a selfish Bulls' fan, we dodged a major bullet by having this knee injury force him to skip the sporting exhibition known as the Olympics.  I was mostly optimistic about how the knee injury would force Rose to play more like a "true" point guard and help him preserve his body and shield him from the unnecessary rigors that are caused from his aggressive style.  Call me Mr. Brightside.  

The zenith of his various injuries and ailments did not come with this knee injury--that was merely a somber conclusion.  The big red flag that all of us should have been paying attention  to was when he had to be hospitalized for stomach ulcers.  Rose blamed it on "spicy food" and promised to cut back and change his diet, however at that point of his career, he was struggling with a nagging back problem (the main physical ailment, theretofore) and many people were thinking that the ulcers were really a result of taking too many NSAIDs; over-the-counter pain relief medication that is notorious for razing one's stomach lining (speaking from experience here).  If you're a pro basketball player and have stomach ulcers due to pain meds to suppress the pain from various injuries, you're either due for a cut in playing time, or are due for a long break.  The one silver lining of getting hurt was that Rose would be getting a much deserved break from NBA action.  

Then came talks that Rose would definitely, without a doubt, return in the spring in time to lead the Bulls' 2013, playoff charge.  At first, I was against the idea, citing that the Bulls, as currently built, are not good enough to go after an NBA title as the Miami Heat were looking like the potential, repeat champions that everybody thought they could be this season.  My thought was, "enjoy the rest, continue to rehab hard, continue to follow doctor's orders, and come back stronger than ever for the start of the 2013-2014 season."  

But then I started looking around and saw other NBA players with similarly serious knee injuries of their own.  We even chronicled the statuses of a few players recovering from these knee injuries: 

But the most remarkable story of the NBA season was John Wall's recovery from a stress injury in his knee.  Many people thought the knee injury was a lot more serious than the team and player lead on and there were rumors and thoughts from some publications and many fans alike that thought the injury was close to being career-threatening.  However, on January 12, 2013, Wall came back and played and was on the court for 21 minutes, scoring 14 points and helping the Washington Wizards do something that they have struggled to do up to that point--win a game.  Not only did John Wall finish the season strong (after not seeing 30+ minutes until his 5th game and playing less than 30 minutes in 8 of his first 11 games), but the Wizards went 22-18 between the months of January and March and finished 24-25 overall with Wall in the lineup.  The team won 5 total games without Wall.  That's progress!

So I was encouraged to see other players recover, slowly, but surely as each passing game saw these players getting stronger and growing more confident as they tested the limitations of their rehabbed knees.  Of course, the one superstar not doing this was Derrick Rose.  As mentioned, I was fine with him not playing at all this season.  Even after the Bulls had announced that he was cleared to practice and eventually play a real game.  

And then I read this article from Dan Bernstein, where he states that playing in live action NBA games is actually part of Rose's rehab program.  At least according to Dr. Brian Cole; the same doctor that performed the knee surgery on Rose:
"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."
Guess who didn't wear his
green jersey on St. Patrick's Day?
(photo courtesy of Felipe M)
And then the rumors coming in March as the city of Chicago impatiently waited for his "The Return" to finally come to fruition.  "He will come back sometime during the Bulls' recent west coast trip" one report advised, while other rumors suggested he would come back in time for March 18 against the Denver Nuggets--a "welcome home" event of sorts.  Then we were told it would be against Portland, but then rationale dictated that he would have to play against divisional foe, Indiana.  However, he would not show up to any of these games.  In the meantime, Rose would neither affirm or deny the claims that he would come back on certain dates.  Instead, we were getting vague answers and excuses.  Due to the vagueness of Rose's responses, I will only quickly list the type of rhetoric he used when addressing the issue of his return:

  • I'll come back soon, after I'm finally cleared to play (gets clearance from medical staff)
  • I'll come back as soon as I'm close to 100% (reports indicate he's "looked good in practice)
  • I'll come back when I can start dominating like I know I can (reports and quotes from teammates indicate that he's "been dominating practices")
  • I'll come back when I can start dunking off my injured knee (watch this video)
  • I'm not sure if I'm coming back at all, but I wouldn't rule out anything (regular season comes to an end)
  • I never said I was going to shut it down, but I might still play (Bulls don't have enough healthy players on roster)
  • I might play in the next game, but it will depend on how I feel (Bulls defeat the Brooklyn Nets in 7 games)
  • I might play sometime against the Heat (Bulls eventually get eliminated by the defending champs in 5 games)
Rose never saw an official NBA minute.  As mentioned before, I didn't mind Rose missing the rest of the year to recover and start fresh for the 2013-14 season.  But all of this loafing and waffling from Rose was a major turn off and really put in question his leadership and character qualities that have endeared him to NBA fans all over the world.  To me, if you're going to play, then play; if you're not going to play, then just say so and get it over with!  But stop with the teasing!  What did it accomplish?  Absolutely nothing!  How difficult was it to just say the following statement?
"Due to my knee not being 100%, rather than risk further injury in an attempt to hasten my return to live basketball action, I will not come back to play for the rest of the 2013 NBA season and will, therefore, regroup with a fresh start in time for the next training camp"
Still waiting...
(photo courtesy of Ricardo Ponce)
And what the hell is he doing trying to come back for the playoffs?  The appropriate time to come back and ease yourself back into playing shape was in the REGULAR SEASON!  I've been saying this throughout Rose's injury and I will repeat myself one last time: the NBA Playoffs are not the place to be rehabbing from knee surgery.

And that's where the major disappointment in Rose comes from in my point of view: his unwillingness to continue his rehab program by playing on the court during the regular season and his Brett Favre-like, "I may not play, but don't rule me out just yet" antics that he pulled off throughout the season.  Whatever the motive for him to keep tantalizing fans of his "The Return" is beyond me.  However, one thing's for certain; he has tarnished his reputation and his likability among NBA fans.  He has become a joke.  His toughness, both physically and mentally, is now questionable at best (Brad Beal certainly questions it).  

Again, I won't forget how Rose would play with reckless abandon prior to the knee injury.  I won't forget how he personified Chicago with his style and toughness.  I won't forget how his stomach lining was ruptured due to pain meds in order for him not to miss a game.  I won't forget how the Bulls have treated their players' health in recent years and I wouldn't blame Rose if he doesn't trust the Bulls' medical staff at all.  

But I won't forget how players like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson were playing heavy minutes under heavy duress and various ailments in these playoffs when it would have been understandable for these players to sit out for a prolonged period of time (and in the case of Deng and Hinrich, they did and I don't blame them).  

Most importantly, I won't forget how Rose blatantly decided to jerk the team and the fans around  for the latter months of the season and playoffs.  I won't forget his indecisiveness.  I won't forget the double-talk.  And I won't forget how he went from being one of the biggest superstars in the league to becoming a punchline.

Will definitely use the rest of the summer to make me forget this episode.  Just like Rose, I too will seek a fresh start in time for training camp.  

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