Chicago Bulls‘ fans are currently reeling from the news that Derrick Rose will miss the remainder of the 2013-14 season after tearing his meniscus. This will of course mark the second time in three seasons that the star point guard has gone down with a serious knee injury, and it now has basketball fans wondering if he’ll ever be the same again.
After two major injuries and essentially two full seasons on the shelf, concerns about Rose’s long-term future are more than legitimate. Now, we’re in a situation where some people are starting to compare Rose to some of the all-time injury prone athletes. One name that comes to mind? Penny Hardaway.
Today’s generation of NBA fans might remember Hardaway from his days with the Miami Heat back in 2007-08, but that was a the very end of his career. Anyone who grew up watching hoops in the 1990s, certainly remembers Penny from his days with the Orlando Magic. Hardaway teamed with Shaquille O’Neal to form the best young duo in the game, one that even rivaled Michael Joran and Scottie Pippen at times.
But just five years into his career, Penny started to fizzle out because of injuries. He missed 23 games in 1996-97 and then 63 games the following year. Once the 1998 season rolled around, Hardaway was never really the same player after surgery on his left knee. He was still pretty good during his tenure with the Suns in the early 2000s, but it was clear to everyone that Penny was a shelf of his former shelf.
Rose was in the midst of his fifth NBA season this year when he went down with a major injury for the second time. During the ten games he played in 2013, he was clearly a different player. You can chalk that up to rust or whatever you want to, but the end result was still a slightly different player on the court. He might have played his way out of it, who knows? But now when he returns in 2014, it’s anyone’s guess what he’ll look like.
I truly hate to say it, but you now have to consider the possibility that Rose could become a Penny Hardaway-type of player. Penny was one of the best players in basketball from 1994-1997, but just two short years and a couple knee surgeries later, he was just another guy. For basketball’s sake, let’s hope that Derrick Rose can avoid a similar fate.