No player was under more scrutiny last season than Chicago Bulls‘ superstar Derrick Rose. He was called everything from selfish to soft as he took the full 2012-13 season off. But for all the reasons why he should not have come back, one need look no further than the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III.
Griffin’s “All in for Week One” campaign has been nothing short of a disaster. Sure, like Rose would have been, he is better than the alternative, but Griffin has been far from the electrifying NFL Rookie of the Year that he was last season. The Redskins are 1-3, and all the talk in the nation’s capital is surrounded around Griffin. Is he being selfish? Should he have taken the extra time off? Would the team have been better off with Kirk Cousins leading the team through the first four weeks?
All of this scrutiny, and more, would have been aimed directly at Rose. Since his comeback would have coincided with the Bulls’ playoff run, the defenses would have been tighter, the inevitable double-teams would have come quicker, the criticism harsher.
Sure Rose had a similar marketing campaign, “The Comeback”, but unlike Griffin, he left it at that: a marketing campaign. He did not allow the pressure to live up to the Adidas commercials that permeated ESPN and TNT NBA coverage to affect his true comeback from ACL surgery.
And sub-par play, by his standards at least, would have been the best-case scenario. Imagine if he had become this generation’s version of Penny Hardaway; a troublesome knee would have robbed the NBA of one of it’s brightest, most explosive young stars.
With the extra recovery time, the stories that have come out of Chicago are essentially that Rose is back and better than ever. And that insight comes from sources that include his workout buddy and Superstar rival, Kevin Durant. The lack of athleticism forced Rose to spend extra time honing in jump shot, which for years has always been the knock on his game.
Now, what we can expect from Rose and the Bulls with a healthy MVP? Expect Chicago to be a better team, now that they have learned how to play successfully without their star. And expect Rose to finish in the top three of the MVP voting, along with LeBron James and Durant. There is little doubt that his performance will be better and more efficient than ever, but it will depend on the voters to determine who brings home the hardware.
Of course, for a team that has made the playoffs in all of Rose’s seasons, and had the league’s best record in his last two healthy years, the true success of this season will come to how the superstar point guard and the team perform in the playoffs.
This Bulls team is built to compete with James’ Miami Heat. They will have a healthy Rose and have added a stretch four in Mike Dunleavy that will create match-up problems. Kirk Hinrich, who has been a thorn in Dwayne Wade’s side even back when he was in his prime, will be free to do what he does best: Come off the bench and be a defensive pit bull in the backcourt.
If there is one team that can stop the Three-Heat, it’s the Bulls. And it is all because Rose handled his injury the right way. Operation Patience, indeed.