The NBA can’t afford to lose a single superstar, and if that superstar’s name happens to be Derrick Rose, well…you watch your spirits deflate.
For more than a year now, you’ve seen only glimpses of him, and those glimpses came in the early part of the 2013-14 season. Rose showed you plenty, a lot more than you expected from an acrobatic guard who had a season’s worth of rust he needed to shake loose.
However, no one should have been surprised that the Derrick Rose you've watched in the 10 games the Chicago Bulls have played this season wasn’t the Derrick Rose you remembered from before his left knee went under a surgeon’s scalpel. Still, you grabbed on to hope that the old Rose would be back soon — back distributing the ball artfully to Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and others on a Bulls team that had been middle-of-the-pack without Rose.
The Bulls found problems anew after they watched Rose limp to the locker room Friday night in the third quarter of a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. You have heard: He'll need surgery on his right knee and will be out for the rest of the season.
It’s a terrible thing to see a brilliant athlete on crutches. For in your mind’s eye, you have memories of what the man, someone like Derrick Rose, used to do. You can’t forgot that Derrick Rose of old even as you fret about whether you will ever witness that Derrick Rose again.
And you long to see that Derrick Rose. For what he was, when he was all that you would want in a NBA superstar. Charismatic, energetic and young, he had earned his reputation a while ago. He has a MVP trophy on his mantel, and Rose has displayed enough skill to suggest he might rival — dare we make mention of him? — LeBron James as the best player on the planet.
Rose, 25, is far from being in that conversation these days, though not because he hasn’t tried to get back into it. He pushed himself in rehabilitating his left knee. He ignored the setbacks, endured the pain and silenced the doubters.
On opening night of the season, he was back. He played a lot like the Derrick Rose you knew so well, and his play promised that soon enough he would be the Derrick Rose you revered and cheered.
But you had to consider whether his fragility would wreck a career that had him headed for the Hall of Fame, as it did to Grant Hill and Penny Hardaway.
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(Photo: AP Photo/The Oregonian, Bruce Ely)