After watching the Chicago Bulls scrape by the Detroit Pistons, 95-94 Sunday night, you’d think I would be sending messages whether via Twitter or telepathy to Chicago point guard, Derrick Rose, the 2010-’11 Most Valuable Player that he needs to suck it up and get back on the court. Rose has missed the entire season rehabbing a knee injury (specifically a tear of his Anterior Cruciate Ligament), and he has kept most of Bulls Nation in suspense in recent weeks as to when he’ll return to action. The doctors have cleared him to play, and he scrimmages with the team. The Bulls need every win down the stretch to gain favorable playoff seeding and at times their offense struggles to locate the paint, much less the basket. Even a rusty D-Rose might help that situation.
He probably could, but I’ve reached a point where I would rather he sit out for the rest of the season. There are both pragmatic and emotional reasons for my stance. On the former tip, there are only 10 games left in the regular season. Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider and one of the top hoops analysts in the game, did a study of how young players recovering from ACL tears. His findings for the first full year were encouraging: players typically regain most of their old selves. However, he noted that there was a warm up phase of about four weeks during which time players shot less than 30% from the field. Granted, none of the subjects in Pelton’s study have dragged out their return as long as Rose, but still, if the rust is that thick, then both D-Rose and the Bulls might be better off having him work it off during the 2013-‘14 preseason rather than try to be more than a shadow of his MVP self.
The emotional reasons are that this Chicago Bulls season belongs to Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, Marco Bellinelli, Rip Hamilton, and a smattering of others. They have been the very definition of overachievers. Few observers would have given the Bulls minus D-Rose for a full season a puncher’s chance at a .500 season, and for good reason. During the offseason the Bulls gutted their renowned Bench Mob, letting key players like Omer Asik, C. J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, John Lucas III, and Kyle Korver move on to other teams. Yet the Bulls have not only clinched a playoff spot, but they are 3-0 against the New York Knicks and 2-1 against the Miami Heat, the two top teams in the Eastern Conference. With only three winning teams on their slate of ten remaining games, a 47-35 record seems well within grasp. As I mentioned in a previous post, most optimistic projections for this team was 46-36 and that was with a healthy, back in form D-Rose from midseason on.
But it’s not just that the Bulls have won, it’s how they win that make this season so satisfying from a fan’s perspective. They have outworked, outhustled, and out-resourced opponents on a nightly basis.
There are two types of successful seasons. One is where your team wins a championship or at least comes close enough that the memory is a glass mostly full. The other is where your team embodies the very best of the competitive spirit and inspires you night after night. The Chicago Bulls are having THAT kind of season. Why mess with a good thing. D-Rose, take your time coming back. It’d be better to have you at full strength next year than at partial readiness now. Deng, Jo, Booz, L’il Nate, Cap’n Kirk et al can take it from here.