CHICAGO — Derrick Rose arrived home from the Bulls nine game road trip and went straight to a back specialist to get a diagnosis on his back which forced him to miss the last two games.
Bulls fans can breath a sigh of relief with news that Rose merely has back spasms and nothing is structurally wrong with his back or spine, as was initially feared. But anytime the face of your franchise misses games out of the blue, you assume the worst.
But Rose’s back won’t keep him out as long as many feared; his stays us day-to-day. But this back issue raises more then one question about how fragile Rose is and his importance to this team. Rose rushed back from a toe injury and now has a back injury that no one wants to get worse. If he rushes back from this, he may not be so lucky again.
“Derrick saw a specialist this morning,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said. “And it reconfirmed what we had thought previously and what the MRI had shown in that there is nothing structurally wrong with his back. It’s muscular.
“So at this point, we will continue with what we’re doing, which is we’ll continue with his therapy, continue to get rest, and it will be day to day. Seeing how he responds to the therapy.”
But will the Bulls rush him back or will Rose just get antsy and want to play anyways. He did this very thing against the Hornets last week, a game which after he claims he could barely move. If Rose worsens his back injury, an injury that has life long effects, that basically derails the Bulls playoff hopes and makes 2012 a lost season.
It’s happened to so many teams before, why should Chicago be immune?
So knowing the grave ramifications of Rose risking his injury, the question now becomes should he sit until the All-Star game? It’s a question raised by fellow Bulls writers that has some traction.
Chicago has played 7 games without Rose going 5-2 with him out. Tomorrow the Bulls welcome the lowly Sacramento Kings into the United Center, a game that doesn’t require Rose’s services in the slightest. The only time Rose’s services are even remotely needed are Thursday against Boston and even then he should sit.
The Bulls revolve around Rose and as much as we want to pretend that’s not the case it is. Without Rose the Bulls become a slightly above average team; they become what they were the final two years with Vinny Del Negro if just slightly better.
Thibodeau deserves a lot of credit for making this defense what is is, so to assume the Bulls are a lottery team without Rose is a massive insult everyone else who makes this team work. But having a ship without a captain isn’t a wise strategy and it’s only going to get you the pat on the back you deserve.
But if Chicago wants to compete and be intimidating, they need Rose. Chicago could make it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals without Rose but it’s really hard to say they outlast the Celtics or Heat without Rose.
That’s why he needs to be shelved until after the All-Star Break. Rose needs to even seriously consider the All-Star game and playing in it. If anything Rose should treat the All-Star game as what it is: an exhibition game. If the Bulls rest him until the Break, he can play the All-Star game and use it as a pickup game against the league’s best to get back into the for of things.
Chicago has the best record in basketball, they can afford to slide a little, they’ve earned that slack. It all goes back to the question we asked ourselves when Rose injured his toe and when Deng hurt his wrist: is it better to rest him and lose now, or play him and lose later.
This of course is assuming life is one bug false dichotomy as there is no proof that if the Bulls rest Rose now that exonerates them from losing in the post season and vise versa. But the numbers don’t lie and neither does history. Even as recently as last year, we’ve seen the Bulls and teams that heavily rely on a superstar falter when said superstar is hurt or a non-factor.
But for now, Rose’s status is Day-to-Day and that means he’ll probably be back on Thursday against the Celtics and play sporadically from now until possibly even the post season.
Maybe that’s best too, we won’t know until we can look back at this season with hindsight.
“Derrick’s a competitor,” Forman said. “He always wants to be out there competing and playing. That’s what you love about Derrick Rose.”