The biggest headline of sports this week is a sad one. Derrick Rose, the NBA’s youngest MVP ever, has fallen to injury and is out indefinitely…again. He will require surgery for this partial tear in his meniscus and, most unfortunately, he will never be the player he was. No, he is no longer among the league’s most polarizing players. Rather, he is now a member of a new, more somber club. Who else is in this club? Glad you asked. Its most notable members are Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady. This prestigious group of athletes can only be referred to as the “What If’s,” and Derrick Rose is their most compelling member yet. Too soon to go there, you ask? Unfortunately no. The tale of D-Rose has been a sad one for the last 3 years, and it will be for the next 50. I’m sorry to say this, Chicago, I really am: it’s time to move on.
I don’t have to tell you how good he was. I don’t have to tell you that he beat out Lebron for the MVP in 2010-2011, and I don’t have to tell you that he was the most dynamic athlete to ever play the point guard position. Charles Barkley said “I been in this game a while, and I have never seen a person get to the basket that fast. Ever. I played on the dream team with MJ and Magic and John Stockton. I have never seen a person get to the basket in two steps as quick as he does. And that’s just half of it. Then he twirls and moves his body in the air like he’s made of plastic.” He was right. D-Rose was a phenomenon with the best first step in the game, the hops to jump out of the gym, the clutch gene to hit the big shot, the work ethic to guide a team and a stat-line of 25/7/4 stat-line… at 22 years old. He was still years away from what would have been his prime. Would have been is the key phrase there.
As the NBA learned with another former budding superstar, Brandon Roy, cartilage is degenerate and it can not be replaced or healed, it merely has to be dealt with. As the NBA learned with Brandon Roy, those medical terms spell out one sad truth: whoever has it will lose their explosiveness. Derrick Rose has relied on those bursts so much throughout his career, yet they are no more.
However, I’m not worried about Derrick Rose physically and I don’t doubt that athletically, he can return to at least a shell of his former self. Derrick Rose will never be the same again because of his condition mentally. No one’s brain can handle a third #TheReturn campaign; it’s just so tolling. To have it all one moment and the next be playing “What If?”… How could D-Rose not spend his time on the hospital bed wondering where the last 4 years have gone?
But this isn’t just an article on Derrick Rose. No, this is an article on the Bulls, and it’s an article on why they need to move on. Can you name me one player in the history of the NBA, nay, in the history of sports to return from two torn ACLs, a torn MCL and a torn meniscus and guided a team to a championship? I didn’t think so. I know D-Rose is tough and that he’ll have the backing and support of the entire league as well as its global fan-base, but no one has done it and no one can. It’s just too hard. It’s just too unfair. For this exact reason, the Bulls need to look elsewhere, and they need to do it soon.
The saddest thing, for me, is that the Bulls are so close. They are such a good team and the authentic, original Derrick Rose could’ve let them hoist the O’Brien Trophy. But he isn’t around anymore. With Tom Thibodeau as the game’s best defensive mind, Jimmy Butler as the NBA’s most improved player this season and the aging Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah as the conference’s most tantalizing front-court duo, these Bulls are that star away from serious title contention. They won’t get there if they keep waiting on Derrick Rose. That will only breed first round playoff exits, even in the measly east, this I assure you. The Bulls need to clear cap space, move pieces around and reel in that big name free agent within the next year or two. In the next two years, the league sees Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol and KD hit the open market, to name a few. Any one of these players, but particularly KD, would take this Chicago team to the Finals immediately. These Bulls are that ready-to-roll.
Unfortunately, however, they’re stuck in the past. They’re living in the “What was” and reasonably so, I probably would be, too. What has transpired in the career of Derrick Rose these last 4 years is tragic, and this week’s injury merely adds to the pile of adversity this man has faced. He was such an incredible player, unlike any I’ve seen, but it’s time for the Bulls to move on. This league moves quickly, and if you get caught waiting, you’ll drown. Don’t pay and don’t keep based on what someone has done for your franchise; do it on what they will do for it. These Bulls are good, they’ve just got one more band-aid to rip off.
Thanks for giving me some of the best highlight reels and most memorable plays I’ll ever see, D-Rose. I’ll always root for you, and so will everyone else.