The lingering question that has run through the minds of NBA fans the last few years is: Will Derrick Rose ever be fully back? Will the 2009 Rookie of the Year, and youngest league MVP in the history of the sport ever return to his old form? The clock is ticking on his once dominant presence in the league.
The number of games Rose has missed the past two seasons is a horrific 103. To put it in perspective, the Spurs Tim Duncan, the ageless wonder of the NBA, has missed a total of 97 games in his 18 year career.
The injury timeline of Rose began in 2012. During Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, Rose tore his ACL coming down from a layup late in the fourth quarter.
He then returns for the 2013 season after 18 months of recovery, creating one of the most hyped comebacks in quite some time. Rose played mediocre at best, until a month a half after his return, he tore his medial meniscus in his right knee. His season was over, again.
In February of this year, Rose tore the same medial meniscus once again, and was sidelined until his return during the Eastern Conference finals against LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Even though the Bulls beat the Cavs twice during the series, it was obvious who the better team was. Down the stretch, the Bulls just couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t like the Bulls were a ragtag bunch either. They had weapons. They had two veterans down low, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, and rising star Jimmy Butler playing beside Rose. The Bulls were a good team.
But, during the final game of the series, it was clear the Bulls had holes in their roster. Rose finished with a sub-par 14 points, getting lost in the shadows in the fourth quarter. The Bulls were defeated by a 20-point margin, despite the Cavs losing all-star point guard Kyrie Irving early in the game to injury.
The sad truth is that Rose will never be the same player. No matter how intense his passion and love for the game is, it won’t be enough. It does not matter what sport you play, sustaining several knee injuries will cripple your career.
College standouts Brandon Roy and Greg Oden have shared a similar fate, having their careers completely ruined by knee injuries. And no matter how hard they tried to get back, they were constantly set back by another nagging injury. Professional athletes just aren’t the same after suffering their first knee injuries. It’s almost inevitable that their careers will steadily decline until they’re phased out of the league.
It’s no secret that once an athlete gets close to age 30, they are most likely past the prime of their career. At age 27, with multiple injuries to both knees, Rose’s body says he’s older than he actually is. In his first few years in the league, Rose has put his body on the line every play, slicing through the defense, taking hits left and right. In 2015, this model of Rose just can’t handle that kind of beating anymore. Even at only 27, Father Time is catching up to Rose.
The amount of talent that Rose possesses will never be in question. His God-given talent will always be remembered, and he will likely continue to play in the league for a number of years. But, Bulls fans alike need to accept that Rose will never be that MVP he was in 2011. Thankfully, with advanced research on rehabilitation in today’s world, Rose is still able to play the game that he loves more than anything. And, as long as he is running point guard for the Bulls, there will always be hope that Rose can play a part in returning that franchise to their former glory.