For the first time since tearing his ACL with 1:22 left to go in the Chicago Bulls Game 1 win over the Sixers, Derrick Rose mingled with his teammates. It was the first time they had chatted with Rose in person since he was carried off the court and helped to the locker room Saturday.
Rose’s spirits seemed high when he was meeting with his teammates but the elephant in the room was unavoidable as much as the Bulls were trying boost their enthusiasm about this 2012 playoff run.
“He’s obviously disappointed with the injury,” Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s totally into the team, and he’s already thinking of all the things he’s going to do to get back.”
Rose hasn’t set a date for surgery yet, but he’s already begun to focus on his rehab. ACL surgery usually takes 6-9 months to recover and rehab from and the Bulls won’t be rushing Rose back from this which means we may not see No. 1 back on the hardwood until January or February of 2013.
It’s still the theme of the season, Rose’s injuries are, it always sort of was the theme. But the tearing of his ACL solidified it as the one thing people will remember when you say “2012 Bulls season”.
Also ironic is that all year long we were stuck debating if Rose should sit and rest to avoid injury or if he should play and risk injury. Now we find ourselves at no further point in the debate, as the discussion now is should the Bulls take the maximum amount of time and then some to rehab Rose or should they have him back in 9 months?
That’s going to be the focus of Rose’s offseason which started Saturday. He’s visiting with teammates to boost spirits but it may also be a long goodbye as after Tuesday the Bulls travel to the City of Brotherly Love for two games, and Rose will most likely be watching the plane take off from the terminal.
“You want him to be around,” Thibodeau said. “And he wants to be around. But I don’t think he’ll be able to travel.”
The injury to Rose devestated the NBA and Sixers head coach Doug Collins was heartbroken that Rose is going to miss the playoffs. But he didn’t for a second believe that Rose’s dismissal from the series changes a thing in favor of the Sixers.
“One of the things I shared with our guys is [Rose] missed 26 or 27 games this year,” Collins said. “They have played without him. It’s not going to be that he’s not missed any games, and all of a sudden now, ‘What are they going to do?’ They’ve won some games without him. They’ve won some big games without him.”
While Joakim Noah is the interim face of the franchise in Rose’s absence, Kyle Korver is without a doubt the team’s spiritual leader and preacher.
“Maybe that was just preparing us for now. Who knows? But we feel like we have enough to win with,” Korver said. “That’s Thibs’ saying that’s ingrained in our mind, right? We have more than enough to win. We believe it. You hear something enough, it kind of sticks with you. We have a lot of faith in C.J. [Watson] and John Lucas and ourselves. And we’re going to go out there and play hard and see what happens.”
All is not lost for the Bulls, even though it seemed that way after Game 1 and despite the pundits like Magic Johnson writing the Bulls off. Chicago played in 27 games without Rose this year and they went 18-9 in that time with wins over the Magic (in which they held them under 60 points), Heat and Celtics.
Hopefully Rose’s visit to the team washes away the sorrows that have been universally felt throughout Chicago for the past two days. Chicago needs to refocus themselves otherwise they’ll get rolled in the playoffs by a team that exposes their emotional weakness. This isn’t a time for self pity.
It’s time to win it for Rose.
Stay tuned to ‘Pippen Ain’t Easy’ all postseason long to get the best, most up to date news and analysis on not only the Chicago Bulls but the entire playoff field from here until the final game of the NBA Finals.