History suggests that Rose could do worse than follow the footsteps of another rather famous Bulls guard named Michael Jordan, which usually isn’t a bad road to take.
Three games into the 1985-86 season, Jordan broke a bone in his left foot in a game at Golden State. Not interested in an offseason of uncertainty, Jordan returned five months later. If management had its way, the layoff would have been much longer. After all, the Bulls had watched their 22-year-old wunderkind win Rookie of the Year the previous season and had a huge investment in Jordan.
Jordan was limited to eight minutes per half upon his return, and the Bulls lost their first five games with him in the lineup. But it wasn’t long before he got his groove back and carried the ragtag bunch to the final Eastern Conference playoff berth with a 30-52 record.
Chicago was no match for the eventual champion Boston Celtics in the first round, but when Jordan erupted for 49 points in Game 1 and a playoff record 63 points in Game 2, the performances did wonders for his confidence and the self-esteem of the organization as a whole.
By the way, Jordan played at least 80 games in all but one of his next 11 full seasons.
Granted, Rose’s injury is a bit more severe, but he finds himself in a similar situation. If he were to avoid injury and play reasonably well even in defeat, it would take a load off him and the front office this summer.
By the start of preseason camp, perhaps Forman and operations chief John Paxson will have added the final pieces to the championship puzzle – an upgrade at power forward and an established scorer to ride shotgun in the backcourt.
Of course, if the ultracompetitive Rose were to go down again, it could have a catastrophic effect on his future and the franchise as well. He and coach Tom Thibodeau know only one speed, which is how they got in this predicament 10 months ago. Then again, that mindset won’t change regardless of when Rose decides to suit up again.
At least management has allowed Rose to call the shots on his future. If he has any doubt whatsoever about his condition, then he should err on the side of caution. Otherwise, he and the Bulls should hope greatness repeats itself, serious contenders or not.
Paul Ladewski is a long-time Chicago-area sportswriter and columnist. He is an occasional contributor to SheridanHoops.com.