The Cold Hard Truth

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Chicago Bulls

It’s just sad. You can twist it in a variety of ways, but the only thing you feel is sadness. I need a hug.

My very first article ever written was about the same situation the Bulls are in right now, and it sadly wasn’t the last. Shocked, depressed, confused, empty.

There comes a time when you’re a fan of any sport or any team, where you have to face the cold hard truth. You want to be optimistic by nature, but in this case, at this moment, you can’t help but to feel for the guy and to think, “What if?”

Derrick Rose will undergo his third surgery in the last three seasons, repairing the same medial meniscus he tore in his right knee last year and his timetable to return is uncertain at the moment.  The injury situation compares most to Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who tore the same ligament as Rose, opted for complete rehab of the ligament only to tear it again. Except the 2nd time he chose to cut the ligament and play without it, which is a cleaner surgery, requires less rehab and the timetable is generally four to six weeks.

The downside is the effects it will have later on in Westbrook’s career, a decision Miami Heat Guard Dwayne Wade has said to regret, it’s the question the Bulls organization and Rose’s camp will work through once again.

While they are similar situations to Rose, they are also completely different. Rose already has a repaired torn ACL in his left knee and now will have enter his third overall surgery. Rose and the Bulls have also been extremely cautious with his health the past three years and they will be most likely again, which makes me doubt he will return this season. The organization put the former MVP on a minutes restriction to begin the 2014-15 season, a decision that was turning into a wise one in retrospect.

And while his play was surely scrutinized, from his lack of aggression at times, to poor shooting slumps, we now realize that the fact that he was just out there playing (He played in 30 of the last 31 games) including 19-straight, with his minutes increasing as he eased back into playing everyday after missing virtually two full seasons, was the most important thing.

The flashes of brilliance were there. The game-winner against the Warriors, dropping 30 on the Cavs before the All-Star break. He also had other notable “Old D-Rose” performances against the Raptors, Wizards and Trailblazers earlier in the season. But once again, grounded. For a man who works as hard as anyone in the league, to be as humble and genuine, to have to suffer so much physically and mentally, is completely unfair for a caliber of an athlete like Rose.

As for the team, it’s just as devastating, demoralizing too. A season ago when Rose went down, the team went on to lose 11 of 14 before D.J. Augustin helped revitalize the team to finish 48-34 and were eventually bounced out of the playoffs by the Wizards. But this one stings even more. This team had the potential to reach the Finals, to really make a run at it. Noah has slowly gotten into his old Defensive Player of the Year form, Jimmy Butler and Pau have had All-Star seasons and Tony Snell has begun to become a main cog off the bench as well. This was the deepest, best overall team I had witnessed from the Chicago Bulls. Yet, without Rose they are a drastically different.

Bulter posted this picture to Instagram after hearing the news of the Rose injury.
Bulter posted this picture to Instagram after hearing the news of the Rose injury.

Rose’s comeback this season has contributed to Jimmy Butler’s breakout year and Pau Gasol’s as well. He creates space, regardless if he is making shots or not. When he drives, defenses collapse on him and open up the 15-footer Gasol has been taking and making all year. Now, all the offensive pressure will rely heavily on Butler and Gasol. As for Aaron Brooks, he will join the long list of point guards that includes C.J. Watson, John Lucas III, Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin who filled the void when Rose was out.

It’s a cold hard truth that Bulls fans are sadly beginning to accept even if Rose’s theoretical timetable to return could be shorter. Mentally, he has to be exhausted, we’ll never know for sure, but at some point he has to start asking “why me?” if he already hasn’t. His career was once filled with so much potential and destined for greatness. Destined to bring back the 7th championship to a team he grew up rooting for, his hometown. He was the best point guard in the league, completely revolutionizing the position (along with Westbrook) and paving the path for guys like John Wall and Damian Lillard. But now, were looking at the “What If?” more and more.

The Bulls and the fans have been through it before. Always preserving the hope that maybe Rose will comeback and change his game that best suites the team and himself. Except that was this season, we don’t know what the future holds anymore moving forward. He’s owed around $40 million over the next few years, a max contract that was given to him at the time when Derrick Rose was just as feared of a player in the league as LeBron, Kobe and Durant, to say he doesn’t deserve it anymore is a bit naive and unjustifiable.

But for the first time after a Rose injury, Bulls fans are now left to ponder what direction the franchise goes, the core isn’t getting younger, they’re built to win now. You can’t help to think about another rebuilding phase, one possibly without Rose.

That may be the coldest and hardest truth of them all.

Get well and be well, D-Rose, Chicago has your back, always.

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-Goat

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