Ahead of the Curve
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"To (play) or not to (play), that is the (thorny) question" swirling around Derrick Rose and every NBA roundtable on the North American continent.

The beef: Is the 2010-11 MVP still recuperating and wisely sitting out these playoffs or clutching to tight to fear of re-injuring his reconstructed and all important knee?

Some trust Derrick in this dust-up.

Rose is the patient.  It's his knee.  Post surgery, Rose's doctors can test, interpret, assess, prescribe, diagnose and advise on their handy work but only the patient can feel the result and compare the knee's repaired-state to the past, before the ACL tear.

While the phrase "cleared to play" has frequently been dropped into the conversation by Rose critics, we know now that he's only been cleared "to practice" and then his progress subject to on-going team assessment (S. Smith / OTL / ESPN / 5-6).

Superstars are a special breed.  They can do things, see things...not "ghosts" necessarily (R. Clark: NFLPA & Mr. Smith have got to sign-off on real drug-testing, STAT), but things that never fly onto the radar of us mere mortals.  Rose is Chicago's franchise man and plays at a very high level, as evidenced by his own fearless flight pattern when on the court, putting his knee and every other joint, muscle and tendon to tremendous pressure and then requiring optimum physical well-being.

What about Adrian Peterson?  Does "All-Day" now become the standard for knee surgeries after his miraculous recovery in 2012?  He could be, but isn't that a little like making Bill Gates the standard by which every business entrepreneur is to measured?  Adrian's comeback was unprecedented and I suspect sport surgeons are not ready just yet to set-the-bar quite so high.

Besides, Derrick always has these excuses for the street cloths: 'everybody's different' and 'basketball ain't football' and yada yada yada.  All true enough.

How might Derrick's return impact Chicago's chemistry?  You might think this a fine time for his return after thumping Bulls got from Miami Wednesday night (G2 / 78-115).  But G2 was near-must win for Salsa City and emotions ran high.  CHI should have no trouble re-aligning at home for G3, Rose or not.  Any team making R2 knows their Table of Elements, "gar-ohn-teed (D. Heffernan)."

Then there's the element of risk.  If you think athletes, even top talent, mesh quickly on the court, you don't know b-ball.  As Mr. Iverson can attest, it takes time beyond practice to gel ("Practice?"), especially for a man who's been away from the game for a year.  That's extra time no team can afford in the PS.  And with intensified pressure to perform, testing a re-fashioned knee of a franchise player is courting disaster, a courtship Bulls' coach Thibodeau and owner Reinsdorf probably just assume not engage for this dance.

And then who are we to question Derrick's recovery routine when his teammates, at least publicly, are covering his back and cool with the sit ("Joakim Noah": "(critics) should really shut up" / ESPN / 5-7 / Friedell).

Others believe only what they see.

These people connect with radio provocateurs like former NFL'er John Jurkovic (ESPN Chicago).  John believes Derrick's "afraid" to suit up, unable or unwilling to cross that mental barrier post-surgery patients can sometimes have trouble breaching (OTL 5-6).

It's not far-fetched that a man would be over-cautious on his recovery, all too aware of the countless cases of NBA players who ventured back onto the court too soon after surgery and never again regained full freedom of use.  And then who's to say that Derrick does not hold a certain sway over the opinions of Bulls' medical staff, influencing their decision on whether or not to give the all-clear for game-play?

If Rose is determined to sit out this entire season, whether that's rationally based or careful to a fault, don't expect Bulls' doctors to publicly contradict their superstar and give full clearance to play.  Better safe than sorry, right?

Besides maybe helping this year's team topple the defending champs, a return now might provide Rose a good physical and mental test for next season.  The problem, you never want to enter this kind of fray at much less than 100%.  Stoudemire (NYK), well, he's horse of a different color, so to speak.  Amar'e re-enters his fray (IND) bearing a dissimilar injury and runs a different race from DR at this point in his career (Y10).

This debate only intensifies if the Bulls defy the odds-makers and take more games from the Heat.  But don't expect a Rose return in this Miami series with the rough & tumble course it's taken.  And if by some chance Chicago advances, the chemistry concern then looms even larger while Derrick might look more the bandwagoneer.

The question on Derrick's return has likely been answered: next season.  So when the arm-chair agitators question your heart, Mr. Rose, not to worry.  The Bard, the ol' Earl of Oxford, Ed de Vere (aka: Shakespeare) penned a line for nearly every occasion, yours too: "This above all, to thine own self be true."

Steven Keys

Nothing But Net

May 10, 2013  07:40 PM ET

He's the highest paid cheerleader out there.. he doesn't want to play.. its easy money what he's doing

Comment #2 has been removed
 
May 10, 2013  10:37 PM ET

I couldn't have asked for two better comments (WF & DC), symbolic of their respective side on this Rose debate. If I had to choose, though, I'd err on the side of caution as Derrick has in sitting and Jerry seems to support. Thanks for reading & comments.

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