The past dozen months have been a struggle for Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, and maybe all the months in this coming NBA season will be a struggle for him, too. Then again, maybe not, because Rose says he’s back.
It’s too soon to tell, though. For Rose, 25, the best young player in the league when he went down with a knee injury in early 2012, has a year’s worth of rust to shake off his game. But rust tends to come off easily when an athlete is young, gifted and determined.
Rose showed determination aplenty while fighting to regain the form that had his name mentioned in the same conversation as LeBron James’, Kevin Durant’s and Kobe Bryant’s before he limped to the surgeon’s table.
Rose’s recovery didn’t go as seamlessly as he, the Bulls, their fans and others around the NBA had hoped it would. His absence saw the Bulls go from a legit contender in the Eastern Conference to a team that was no one’s pick to reach the NBA Finals.
That’s how good Rose was – a charismatic, 6-foot-5 star with a point guard’s smarts and big guard’s skills. He translated that combination into a skill-set he used to fill arenas wherever the Bulls played.
Yet Rose did more than fill arenas. He made the Bulls relevant for the first time since some man named Michael Jordan wore Bulls colors and turned Chicago into the center of the hoops universe.
Rose’s Bulls were supposed to challenge the elite teams in the NBA. They were, in some people’s eyes, the best team in the league. They were young, dynamic, plus they had the star who could elevate a good team to greatness, as that man named Jordan did in his glorious years in Chicago.
The road to greatness has detours, and Rose had his last season, which he sat out entirely. At times, he seemed poised to return, and the rumors kept telling us he would. He never did. Each time Rose prepared for what looked like the final hurdle, he ran into yet-another obstacle – one more thing to leap like Superman.
As the 2012-13 season wound toward the playoffs, Rose was no closer to suiting up than he had been for Game 1 of the season. The thought of his returning at all was abandoned, which meant the Bulls had as much chance of winning the NBA title as the Cleveland Cavaliers have had since LeBron left.
Nowhere in his recovery did Derrick Rose believe a comeback altogether was out of the question. Obstacles or not, he was coming back to the NBA, dammit – coming back, he promised, to play as well as, if not better, than he had before his knee gave out on him.
Soon enough, Bulls fans and the rest of the NBA will know for certain if, in fact, Derrick Rose of now is as good – or better – as the Derrick Rose of his first few seasons in the NBA. If Rose is, the Bulls are a team to reckon with; if he is not, well, the Bulls will be another middle-of-pack team that’s destined for a short run in the NBA playoffs.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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