Chicago Bulls Fans Are Crazy to Ask Derrick Rose to Prolong His Return

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls is examined after suffering an injury against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 28, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 103-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Yes, there's an underlying logic to the notion that the longer Derrick Rose is off the court, the better the Chicago Bulls' odds are of landing a premium lottery pick in the 2013 draft.

It's a pretty pessimistic logic too.

Sure, head coach Tom Thibodeau won't have the same bench unit with which to work this season, and his team is unlikely to enter the playoffs with home-court advantage. No matter how quickly and effectively Rose returns from knee surgery, those things are out of his control.

But this game isn't about seeding and Vegas odds. It's about the kind of story that would be written in the event Rose returns and guides this franchise to its first NBA title since you-know-who was around.


Of course, and that's what makes it such an intriguing possibility. Forget the feel-good subtext of an MVP's heroic return from catastrophic injury—just wait for that hero to test himself against the reigning champion Miami Heat.

The David and Goliath undertones would be epic, and more than a few bandwagon Heat fans would suddenly begin reconsidering their allegiances for at least the second time in 12 months.

Even if you're unpersuaded by the stuff of legends, there's a strong case to be made that Chicago is anything but out of the hunt.

This team played pretty well without DRose last season, gutting out an 18-9 regular season record in his absence. If forward Taj Gibson's sentiments are any indication, the supporting cast is prepared to do the same this season (via SportsNet staff):

Our mindset hasn't changed. It's about staying focused and taking one game at a time. We understand it's going to be up and down at the beginning of the season. We can't look forward to the end. We got to look forward to one game at a time and playing to our strengths and just listening to coach (Tom Thibodeau). I know it's going to be a long season, but I'm really optimistic about what's going to happen.

Even if Gibson's optimism isn't entirely founded, the Bulls still have a better shot at making the playoffs than would-be replacements like the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards.

From there, anything is possible. Chicago matches up pretty well with elite teams like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. Thibodeau's team defense gives the team a chance on any given night, and you have to like an interior rotation boasting Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer, even if you don't have to like Carlos Boozer.

To have even an outside shot against the elites, though, Rose will need as much time as possible to get back into the swing of things.

It goes without saying his doctors will hold him out for as long as he needs to stay out, but he shouldn't be off the floor for a minute longer.

Rose never looked to fully regain a rhythm after so much missed time last season, and having a few extra weeks to find that stride could be the difference between an inspired postseason push and coming up empty.

It's one thing to be a realist about the Bulls' chances, but it's another to count them out altogether. If Rose has had time to reacquaint himself with the same he's dominated thus far, the Bulls will be dangerous.

Even if you're convinced they'll remain underdogs, Bulls fans should know as well as anyone how an injury or two can radically change the complexion of the postseason.

No one expected the Philadelphia 76ers to get out of that first round last season.

So, who cares what's expected from the Bulls? They'll have at least one guy in their corner who's more than ready to exceed expectations.

And they'll need him back as soon as possible.