1.7%. Not quite the unlikely odds of getting struck by lightning, of winning the Powerball, or of a big chunk of space rock smacking Earth in the kisser, but unlikely odds nevertheless. After Derrick Rose tore his ACL last season, the odds of landing a supreme talent in an NBA draft—a franchise player, “The Franchise” player—with such a lowpoint likelihood seemed all the more improbable, and by association, precious.
As has been seen this season, without Derrick, the Bulls are far from being title contenders. Granted, even with the healthy former MVP, the Bulls were trounced by a hot-shooting Miami team in an ECF match-up two years ago, but that weighs more on the glaring lack of a second shot creator than on Rose himself. The Bulls continue to be a solid squad without Chicago’s native son, and “overachieving” has slowly supplanted their mantra of “hard work,” but without Rose they’re the Milwaukee Bucks or even Boston. With him, they might be Miami’s only competition in the East (at least when considering the Knicks’ recent slump and Miami’s meteoric rise).
But Bulls fans have recently seemed antsy to wager that 1.7% gift of an unlikelihood, and perhaps their own mental sanity, for the prospect of seeing Rose back on the court. For what? It would be like wagering a family heirloom on whether or not there’s a PED problem in the NBA. Or using your mint condition 1948 Bowman Basketball George Mikan rookie card as a bookmark.
The most impassioned fanatics point to Adrian Peterson’s all too miraculous recovery, perhaps even more miraculous than the prospect of landing Rose in the first place, as point number one in why Rose should be breaking ankles come yesterday. Just as the advent of refined medical technology has allowed for a rosy return for Rose that wouldn’t have been possible with past medicine, we want to see his revolutionary talents outpace the work of outdated point guard speed with his laser-precisioned quickness. We want to see the man who is tied with Kareem Adbul-Jabbar for most points scored as a rookie in their first playoff appearance (36), back to defying expectations and precedents. We want to see the man who was alone, and right, in boldly predicting his own MVP legitimacy, back to his former glory.
But not at the cost of losing a perennial All-Star to re-injury. Or worse: the Grant Hill-Penny Hardaway fallen hero syndrome.
A source indicating that Derrick Rose had been cleared by his doctor to play has stirred a big hoopla about nothing. D. Rose has been playing in 5-on-5, full-contact practice since February 19th, so a clear mind would reason that he had already been cleared since before the trade deadline. So if it’s an issue now that Rose isn’t playing, why wasn’t it an issue back in February?
Why are we doubting the man who gave himself stomach ulcers from overdoing his gym regiment, and surely from soaking in the pressure put on his shoulders, for wanting to return when he’s ready? Fans are nagging that Rubio and Shumpert recovered in nine months, so why is Rose, who is at ten and counting, “still not back?” Iman Shumpert himself put things into perspective: “[Derrick] knows his body better than anybody else. He has a lot more on his shoulders than I do. This is my second year in the league. I’m more of a defensive stopper for [the Knicks]. Derrick has to make sure that when he’s back, he’s on the top of his game. I think he’s just being patient. He doesn’t want to rush it. When he’s ready to play, he’ll be back on the court.”
After stating that he would only return when he was 110%, Rose has listed hamstring issues and a shaken mental confidence as reasons for not yet returning. Yes, his brother Reggie Rose had disparaging things to say about the Bulls organization, but has Rose ever indicated to anyone that he wasn’t all about winning?
Prior to the season starting, fans had almost unanimously conceded that he should take the year off, as his explosiveness would require he make a complete recovery. And that sentiment was right: he does mean too much to be lost to impatience. But now the tide has turned, and Rose’s pedigree is being questioned despite him still being on track for a ten-month return date. With all the noted pressure, it’s worrisome to think that Rose might race back to the court to prove critics wrong. My notion is that he’ll probably do that without much fanfare, at least from his own part, at the end of March. But fans will have to live with themselves if Derrick’s rushed return proves to have been the wrong chess move. And if Derrick’s ACL tear—which brought a collective hush to the city of Chicago—wasn’t enough to check fans on the preciousness of Chicago’s 1.7% claim on his dynasty-worthy talents, then nothing will.