Much has been made of why he – despite being cleared to play by doctors some time ago – has still been unavailable to play for the team. Perhaps there wouldn’t have been so much scrutiny on the point guard, who is still in the process of recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in last season’s playoffs, had he and the team simply announced that he’d miss the remainder of the season. That would have ended all the curiosity and criticism. If he did comeback? Great. Now he would be a hero for doing so. Case in point: David Lee of the Golden State Warriors was expected to miss the remainder of the season after tearing his hip flexor, but made a sudden appearance in Game 6 of the first round and was recognized as an inspiration. Either way, Rose is not ready to say he is done just yet, from Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose has his reason why he won’t just say he’s not playing this season.
It’s because Rose, deep down, still thinks he could return sometime during the playoffs even though he hasn’t played since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of last season’s first-round playoff series.
He doesn’t want to rule anything in or out, even though the Bulls plan on not having Rose available this season.
“Still in the air. I might have a chance,” Rose said Monday morning the Bulls shootaround, about nine hours before Game 1 of Chicago’s Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Miami Heat.
None of us really understand what exactly Rose is going through with the knee and why he still doesn’t feel confident enough to try to play on it. With key players on his team ailing with an assortment of injuries, they certainly could use anything they can get from Rose. However, no one on his team is necessarily pressuring him to do so. He addressed this particular topic, along with Steve Kerr’s call-out of the situation on national TV:
“There’s no pressure at all. I haven’t had any pressure from anyone – not in the organization, not from my teammates,” he said. “They know I’m put everything I have into trying to come back as fast as possible. But just trying to be smart with the whole situation and just take my time.
“It’s definitely hard. I know this will be over with pretty soon. Who knows when it’s going to stop? I can’t get down on myself.”
TNT analyst and former Bulls guard Steve Kerr recently said, “If Derrick is OK and there’s no threat to further injury, I think he’s got to play. … Maybe he owes it to his teammates.”
Rose answered Kerr’s statement.
“Everybody has their own opinion,” he said. “The key words that he said were, ‘If I’m ready.’ (Right now) I’m not ready. I’m just trying to take my time and really, really be smart.”
Rose will not put a percentage on his physical or mental health.
“I don’t want to say no percentage,” Rose said. “I wish I knew, but I know I’m feeling pretty good.”
With the Bulls shocking the world with a victory in Game 1 over the Heat on the road, they certainly could use Rose to help complete what would be an incredible upset. Unless Rose makes the decision to give it a go, however, this may be a pointless situation to continue to wonder about. Oh, and make sure you never mention it to Joakim Noah, because he just might get upset with you. Check out what he said, from KSBW:
“Derrick’s a brother,” Noah said. “And to see him go through this is tough, but at the end of the day it’s really funny how quick people are to judge. But people don’t know what it’s like to lead a team, especially after you tore your ACL. “If you tore your ACL and you have to be the starting point guard and have the expectations that Derrick has, then maybe you can judge, but everybody who hasn’t been in that situation before should really shut up because I feel like it’s just so unfair to him and to this team. We’re fighting, and everybody’s going to just s— on somebody who’s been giving so much to this organization. It’s crazy to me.”
Onto other news from around the league: