Indulge me the hypothetical as we head down the season's stretch.
As OKC stomped Chicago on Sunday, I couldn't help but wonder if some Bulls fans welcomed the beating.
Chicago's success in Rose's absence has not necessarily been an argument for Derrick as indispensable, and many Bulls fans were animated by last year's intense debate over his value in regards to the MVP race.
Though Bulls fans through and through, I'd hazard that many would rather success come via Derrick heroics than by the hand of John Lucas.
We don't just root for a team when we root for a team: We root for our favorites on the team.
Growing up, I didn't just love the Knicks, or pine for their success. I yearned for that moment when Patrick Ewing would stop being a tragic figure. I wanted that transcendent validation of everything he meant to me as a fan. I wanted a comeuppance for every pundit who slighted him.
It's still a source of pain that his is the name attached to "The Ewing theory," a sports postulate about overrated superstars.
As of today, Tom Thibodeau's team is in first place, despite missing the reigning MVP for 21 games and counting.
They've soldiered on despite their star's absence. It is quite conceivable that they will go on to win a championship as Derrick Rose sits on the sidelines.
And then what? Are Bulls fans ambivalent in their joy? Are some even joyless?
I'd rather Rose plays, but I'd be fascinated by the fallout of such a scenario.