Wearing a pair of team sweats and a knee brace from just above the ankle to the middle of his thigh that stabilized the left leg and torn ACL, Derrick Rose hobbled to mid-floor before Tuesday’s Game Two playoff matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers. He presented the game ball to referee Courtney Kirkland under a chorus of halfhearted cheers from fans and teammates.
Derrick Rose, the league’s reigning MVP, relegated to the role of glorified mascot for the remainder of the NBA Playoffs. It wasn’t just salt in the wound, it was lye — corrosive and infinitely more painful.
Chicago Bulls fans weren’t just being reminded that their star — their savior — was out for the remainder of the postseason, they were reminded of the fact that his entire career may be different.
In four years, Derrick Rose hadn’t just established himself as an All-Star point guard, he was potentially the most explosive athlete to ever play the position. But as he limped towards center court with 20,000 plus bereaved fans staring on, the brace was a somber reminder of the injury it protected. One that’s been known to rob explosiveness from athletes like Derrick Rose.
It may as well have been a full body cast.
Rose will likely miss a portion of next year recovering from this injury and this season that has robbed him of a year in his prime and a title opportunity. And even though this injury is far from career-ending, it’s certainly career altering.
Will he continue to be too strong? Too fast? Too good?
He’ll likely lose a step and he certainly won’t be able to elevate the way he used too. He’ll have to reinvent himself. It will be difficult, sure. But it’s a transition he’ll have to make.
Luckily for Derrick Rose, he’s witnessed the benefits of change for the better, both on the court and off. He was raised on the streets of this city that now celebrates him, and change has been a big part of Derrick’s life. Now, Derrick will have to channel the reinvention of childhood idol Michael Jordan.
In 1996, when Rose was eight, Michael Jordan returned to the game for his first full season and age had taken a step. However, Jordan returned to the NBA with a new weapon: A devastating mid-range jumper. Take heed, Derrick.
Even in the event that Rose comes back just as quick and violently powerful as ever, he’ll have to make some changes in order to conserve his body. He’ll have to rely heavily on an improved mid-range game, circa Jordan ’96.
Rose, of course, is no stranger to improving upon his jump shot. Before last year’s MVP-winning season, Rose lifted thousands of jumpers a day throughout the offseason in an effort to add range to his jumper and stretch defenses. He wound up knocking down 128 treys on the year after hitting just 32 in his first two seasons as a pro, and the three-ball was a welcomed addition to his game.
It’ll be a long road, but if he puts the same kind of dedication into rehab and the development of an 18-foot jumper as he did in his three-point shooting, Rose will be as effective as ever. However, until we see Rose back on the floor, we don’t really need the nightly reminders of the Derrick Rose that was, and is likely no more.
We don’t welcome ceremonial pregame ceremonies to remind us of an injury that robs us of a year of Derrick Rose in his prime any more than we would welcome the business end of a rhinoceros to the ass. The same goes for the in-game shots of Rose in a luxury suite.
He’s not a mascot, and to treat him like one is counterproductive. After Derrick made the trek to center court, the United Center was uninspired and quiet. The 76ers went on to win in a rout.
Let’s go ahead and save ourselves the misery.