When Derrick Rose tore his ACL on April 28, 2012, we all knew the upcoming season would be a rough one. Even a best-case scenario had him missing the first two months of the season, and it was generally understood that the “real” best-case scenario was more like four months into the season. Missing the whole season was presented as a possibility, but most people — including myself — dismissed it.
Where you stand on Rose’s decision to sit out the entire 2012-13 season seems to depend largely on whether you think athletes have an obligation to play if they’re able — even if doing so would risk their future health and/or productivity. If you think an injured athlete who’s been medically cleared owes it to his team and his team’s fans to play, even if he’s not totally comfortable and/or he would be risking further injury to play, then you probably hate Derrick Rose right about now.
Let’s get something straight before we go any further: Not playing through injury does not make you “mentally weak.” I know all of us Bulls fans romanticize Michael Jordan’s insistence on playing through whatever malady he had that week, but the fact is that MJ was a crazy person. Derrick Rose suffered a catastrophic injury that as recently as a decade or two ago was a death knell for a basketball player’s career, especially a basketball player who relied as much on their speed and athleticism as Rose did and does. Therefore, he decided he wouldn’t come back until he was absolutely, completely sure he could trust his knee. That is his right as a human being. I don’t care how much money he’s being paid.
Think it through from his perspective. He could have pushed himself to come back — to play with Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, which I’m sure was his dream — but he would have risked injuring himself again. I suspect, given the choice, he would have returned, but it’s not like he could have waved a magic wand and made his knee completely fine again. By all accounts he’s been working his ass off in rehab, but he’s just not comfortable with that yet.
Was it disappointing to go an entire year without him? OF COURSE IT WAS. I can’t even tell you how many times I nearly gave up on the season out of pure frustration. Did he handle the situation well? Dear god no. By all means, if your beef with Derrick Rose is the way information was disseminated about his progress, go right ahead and beef with him. My guess is things turned out the way they did because Rose kept expecting to start feeling ready and then never did, but I don’t know that and he could have just explained that anyway.
Here’s the important part: He has an entire summer plus the preseason to get himself ready for opening night. There’s nothing to suggest he won’t be back by then, and while he most likely won’t be “Derrick Rose” immediately, he should eventually regain the form you see here:
And, of course, here:
He’s still the same dude we all fell in love with. He’s still one of the best players in the league. He’s still the guy from the South Side of Chicago who doesn’t say much, loves gummy bears and crosses people up.
So put aside your irrational pique and settle down. He’ll be back.
Final Grade: Incomplete