His style of play would have eventually taken a toll even without the injury, but the question now is if he can come back and be that guy once he recovers from his injury.
In an eerie coincidence, Rose follows another Chicago sports legend who went down to injury in just his fourth year, Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears. For anyone who had a chance to watch the mercurial Sayers run through the opposition on the football field, that's the equivalent to Rose dashing through the lane and twisting and turning his body into impossible contortions to put the ball in the hole.
Sayers' career was cut short by injuries. He came back from his first to lead the league in rushing, but for anyone who watched, he wasn't the same.
Sayers could cut at full speed on a dime. Tacklers would be reaching for where they thought he was, but he was already gone. In the five seasons he played, including the one he was injured, he was first team All-Pro each time.
If he played today, he would be better than any running back you have ever seen. Think of a better Barry Sanders, and at his best, much better. He was elected to the Hall of Fame despite playing such a short time, and was the youngest player ever inducted.
The times are different today, and medicine has advanced leaps and bounds. Had Sayers been around today, the injury he suffered would not have been near as devastating, and that leads me to Rose and his future.
This is not a death sentence for his career. He will come back. The question is if he will be the same explosive player we have watched for the past four years.
As I like to do when I don't completely know the subject I'm writing about, I research so I can come up with an educated opinion on the topic.
Speed is such an important component in Rose's game. It's one of the things that makes him stand out from the crowd of point guards.
The ACL stabilizes the knee. It runs up and down in the front middle of the knee; a torn ACL doesn't really take away your speed, because speed doesn't come from your knees. It comes from your hamstrings, your quads, and your hips. The key to the rehab is making your knee strong again.
There are all kinds of factors that go in to the success Rose will have rehabilitating from this injury. There are generally two ways to go about it, having surgery immediately or waiting before rushing into surgery.
According to K. Donald Shelbourne, an orthopedic surgeon at the Methodist Sports Center in Indianapolis, waiting is the better alternative. "It's important for the patient to rehabilitate first. The patient must then begin physical therapy immediately after surgery, including repetitive knee motion."
As of now, it appears the Bulls are taking the latter approach. No matter what, it's going to take time. Projections are that Rose will be out from six to nine months at least. That means he might not come back until the 2013 calendar year, but that's not what's important. His health is.
Initially, he may not be the same player, if ever. He probably won't be the Rose you know when he returns. It probably won't be until his second year back that he's at full speed again.
Then there are the other questions. Does he trust the knee? Does he think he can do what he so naturally did before this injury? Will he be afraid to do those things?
This is not only physical — it's mental too. Maybe even more so. If you fall off a horse, they say to get right back on, but that's easier said than done. If you know what caused your issue, do you go right back to it, or is that sitting there in the back of your mind?
Rose's style on the basketball court subjects him to a lot of physical abuse. Even if he didn't tear his ACL, he couldn't have realistically played this way forever. Eventually, he would have had to adapt his game some.
This might be a reason he does just that.
When Michael Jordan came back from retirement, he no longer attacked the basket as relentlessly as he did before. He developed an unstoppable fadeaway jumper that allowed him to be just as successful, though maybe not as exciting.
If Rose can't play the game the same way, he too will adjust. The question is, if he can't do the things that make him Derrick Rose, how good will the new version be?
He's the most explosive point guard in the league, with a combination of speed and leaping ability, along with a burning desire to be the best that has brought him to this point.
All is not lost though. He might still be the same player when he comes back. On ESPN in Chicago on Monday on the Carmen, Jurko, and Harry Show, they had on Michael Kaplan, the lead ESPN medical analyst.
He said, "It's reasonable that he could come back as good as he was if they don't find anything else wrong when they go in there. He could be 100 percent."
There have been many examples of basketball players who had ACL surgery, going back to Bob Lanier who injured his knee in college. He still ended up being selected the No. 1 pick in the draft and had a long, productive NBA career.
He played for 14 years and averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds and was an eight-time All-Star.
Another player from the past, Bernard King, was a big-time scorer and star in the league. He was averaging 32.9 a game when he went down with the injury. He missed almost two full seasons, coming back and averaging 17.2 his first year back. He followed with 20.7, 22.6, and finally getting back to 28.4 and finishing third in the league in scoring.
He changed his game after the injury, but he was still an effective player.
Baron Davis tore his ACL in college and was a very effective pro, though he seemed to suffer repeated injuries through the years.
A point guard who was very much like Rose was Tim Hardaway. He had the most explosive crossover in the game before he blew out his knee. The year before his injury he averaged 21.5 a game. In his comeback season he poured in 20.1, so there wasn't much of a drop-off there, but he only averaged 20 points per game one other season.
He lost the explosiveness that made him the player he was before the injury.
There are many players that have had ACL surgery and played in the league aside from those I have mentioned, including Danny Manning, Al Harrington, Al Jefferson, and Nene.
They have all had good careers, but who knows what they could have been if they hadn't suffered that injury?
Michael Redd's career came to a screeching halt, and though he's back playing, he's really never recovered.
It some cases, players who tore their ACL suffered other injuries down the line. Whether a torn ACL leads to the likelihood of future injuries is not something I can answer.
The only thing I can say is that Derrick Rose has a long, hard recovery period ahead of him. He's always been a hard worker, and now he's going to have to work harder than he ever has before.
If anyone can do it, it's Derrick Rose.
There is one question though that may never be answered. Derrick Rose was getting better every year. He had not yet reached his pinnacle.
Every time Rose was in the game, you couldn't look away, because you might see something you never saw before. Is he going to be capable of that coming back?
Even Michael Kaplan from ESPN who I quoted earlier said he won't be better.
And that's the shame of this injury.
Rose will come back, and I have no doubt he will be a terrific player.
I just don't know if he will ever be what he was destined to be.