On April 28th, 2012 the city of Chicago, as well as the entire NBA community, sat in shock as they watched Bull’s point guard, Derrick Rose, fall to the ground and writhe on the court in agony. When it officially came out that Rose tore his ACL, a cloud of utter disbelief befell the Chicago community, as their beloved hometown player would be out indefinitely. This wasn’t supposed to happen; 2012 was supposed to be the Bull’s year.
There is no visual that personifies the emotion of this incident better than the 2012 Adidas advertisement that shows just how hopeless the Chicago community felt when the words “he’s holding his knee, and he’s down” came through the TV.
An ACL tear is a gruesome injury for any athlete in any sport to suffer from. But when an NBA point guard suffers this injury, it garners a lot of implications for how effective he will be throughout the entirety of his career.
Point guards are naturally the quickest, most explosive and agile players on the court. Their job is to move the ball in a way that is stealth like and keeps the defenders on their toes, not knowing what to expect. You’re called to sacrifice your body and draw contact at every possible moment. Derrick Rose took the role of the point guard position and elevated it to an entirely new level. The NBA has seen a lot of outstanding point guards throughout its history: Bob Cousy and Earvin “Magic” Johnson most notably. And even in the current era, there are a lot of noteworthy PG’s that have made a name for themselves: Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry and Rajon Rondo, to name a few. But none of them made an appearance into the league like Derrick Rose.
Graduating from Simeon High School (an extremely well-known high school basketball power house located on the south side of Chicago) in 2007 and going on to play at University of Memphis, he was then drafted as the number one overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft; an opportunity that took him back to his home town of Chicago. Rose wasted no time making a name for himself as he won Rookie of the Year in 2009, made three appearances in the NBA All-Star game, and in 2011 at the age of 22, became the youngest player ever to win MVP.
Regardless of how explosive Rose was during his first few years in the league, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding “The Return” of this talented young man on the court since his devastating injury. Last season, it was anticipated that Rose would return to the Bulls line-up during their playoff run. However, to many people’s disappointment, Rose never felt strong enough to risk another injury to return to the court last season.
But with the NBA regular season tip-off approaching in three weeks we can all expect to see this young prodigy back on the court and in action. But the question is, how effective will he be on the court after being out of commission for over a year?
In his debut during the NBA pre-season on October, 5th, Rose was playing as if he hadn’t missed a beat over the past 17 months. He spent a total of 20 minutes on the court and dropped 13 points in the Bull’s victory over the young and talented roster of the Indiana Pacers. There was absolutely no hesitation in Rose’s style of playing. He was making steals, dunking the ball, drawing contact, getting to the rim and incorporating his well-known bursts of speed up and down the court.Clearly, head coach Tom Thibodeau is easing Rose back into his playing routine with only 20 minutes of playing time, but this method seems to be working effectively for the moment.
A day after playing, Rose commented in an ESPN article by Nick Friedell that, “[My knee] feels great. I’m not sore or anything. My leg’s good. Just trying to stay focused and trying to take it one day at a time.”
My hopes for the Bulls this year are high. Last season, no one expected much from the team that was missing their most crucial piece, but they ended up surprising everyone with a 45-37 record and making it to the NBA conference semi-finals where they lost to the unstoppable Miami Heat in five games. Instead of viewing the loss of their PG as an excuse for mediocrity, the Bulls took it as an opportunity to make themselves the best they could be without Rose, and therefore making them a deadly threat in the East with Rose back in the line-up.
With Rose virtually playing at 100 percent and having the likes of Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer to back him up, I anticipate that the Bulls will meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals during the 2014 post-season and I am going to boldly pick the Bulls to defeat the Heat in a seven-game series and find themselves in the NBA finals.
Derrick Rose is not one to brush off. He might have taken the slow route to recovery, but he has never looked better on the court. He’s healthy, he’s confident and he’s hungry for a run in the playoffs. I’m picking this year to be the Bulls year.