When people think about Jamal Crawford, they usually think about the stellar season that he his having as the Los Angeles Clipper’s sixth man. They probably think about his deadly crossovers, All-Star worth alley-oops and his 17 points per game.
What most people don’t know or maybe don’t remember about Crawford is that he, like Derrick Rose, tore and recovered from a torn ACL. Unlike Rose, Crawford tore his in 2001 when he was playing with the Chicago Bulls. He donned a Bulls uniform for four seasons and in the past has expressed gratitude and love for his former team, but in terms of a torn ACL he has painted a very clear picture for Rose and all the fans who are hounding him to return.
His message was simple: it’s not just about physical recovery. As he put it, “the last stage is the mental part.” When Crawford made his return to the court, he only played 15 minutes and scored 10 points and threw in two assists because “I knew I was ready, I was just scared.” This is an important message that Bulls fans need to understand.
It seems ever since the doctor cleared Rose to play, all we’ve heard is so-called fans calling him explicit names and questioning his drive to return to action. Not only do they sound simple minded, but they lack clear understanding and respect for a man who has spent the last 11 months constantly rehabilitating his knee.
Is Rose physically ready to play? Maybe, but believe it or not, his mental game is just as important as his physical game and every athlete who has torn his ACL can attest to that.
I want Rose to return as much as the next fan, but I don’t think for one second that he should rush himself if he is not ready. Think about it: what good would his return do if he couldn’t do half the things he wanted to because he wasn’t 100 percent confident in himself? It would do more harm than good and true fans of basketball should know that.
If we wanted to delve deeper into what Crawford can teach us about a return from an ACL tear it’s this: it’s worth the wait. Ever since he returned in 2002, his averages across categories have improved drastically. The 17 points per game he is averaging now matches the points he averaged in 2006 and was followed by him averaging 20 points per game. What do these small statistics mean? It means that when he returned, he improved greatly for many seasons to come. If the same improvements apply to Rose’s 22 points per game last season, than he will truly become unstoppable.
Needless to say, every athlete who has ever suffered a torn ACL will tell Rose the same thing about returning and in the end it comes down to when he is comfortable physically and mentally to do so. Until then, “fans” need to let him be and should rejoice knowing that whenever he does return, be it this season or next, he will be better in every aspect of the game.