After battling minor injuries throughout the duration of the 2011-12 regular season, D-Rose entered the postseason with much to prove. The 2011 NBA MVP needed to prove that his injuries had not prevented him from sitting atop the league's food chain.
Rose did just that, flirting with a triple-double as he posted 23 points, nine assists, nine rebounds, one steal and a block. He hit three three-pointers and had the Bulls out to a 99-87 lead with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.
And then the world stood still.
Chicago's native son drove the lane, went up for a routinely flashy layup and then crumbled to the floor. Rose was down and out, grabbing at his knee, wincing in pain and ripping the hearts out of millions of fans across the NBA.
Derrick Rose tore his ACL. Little did we know, it wasn't just his season that was in danger. It was his career.
As one could only expect, Chicago Bulls fans are none too patient with this extensive process.
Fortunately for the Bulls as a team, however, Rose is far from inclined to rush his recovery. The risk of re-aggravation is severe and the three-time All-Star is taking all of the necessary precautions.
According to Jared Zwerling of ESPN Chicago, a former Bulls great believes Rose should sideline himself for the entirety of the 2011-12 NBA season.
Isn't that right, Tim Hardaway?
"I'd just rather have him take his time, so he can be 100 percent, because he's like me, running and jumping," Tim Hardaway told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday. Hardaway pointed out that his injury was similar to Rose's, a freak, non-contact injury on a routine play. Hardaway was going up for a layup on March 3, 1993 against the Los Angeles Lakers when he tore his left ACL, and he missed the entire next season.
Due to Hardaway's familiarity with the injury and recovery process, there is merit to what he has to say. No one truly knows how they'll recover until they've gone through the stages of it, which makes someone with experience of great value in this instance.
When should Derrick Rose return to the NBA?
Unfortunately for Hardaway, it doesn't appear as if Rose cares too much for his opinion
Per a report via ESPN Chicago, Rose will "return when he's ready." Regardless of when he is, Rose will be available to perform at the highest level possible.
As for Hardaway's sentiments, to each their own.
"Everybody has their own opinions," Rose said in an interview Oct. 1 with ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "When the time comes I just have to be ready and prove to the people here that I am ready to play. Who knows when that time is? If it's all year I might wait the whole year, so what? If I come back at the All-Star (break), so what?
Rose proceeded to claim that spending time away from the game in rehabilitation has taught him to value "patience." That's exactly what he's going to need in order to make it through the following months while watching his hometown team from the sidelines.
Just don't expect head coach Tom Thibodeau to make the mistake of rushing Rose back when that patience runs out.
They've Done It Before, Part I
For some strange, unexplainable reason, the general population is under the belief that the Chicago Bulls cannot win without Derrick Rose. The fact of the matter is, the Bulls went 18-9 in the 27 games that Rose missed during the 2011-12 regular season.
That comes out to a .667 winning percentage, which equates to a 55-win year. For those doubting Chicago's ability to actually perform to that level, keep in mind that the teams that the Rose-less Bulls defeated included the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and a Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic.
In terms of their regular-season play, the Bulls will be fine without him. Even D-Rose has taken time out to praise the current group of players and what they've proven.
"It's going to hurt at first, but I know that the players we have, they want to be here, and they're going to do anything to win," Rose said. "The character of the team is great. Everytime I come in here and see them working hard it makes me want to work harder in my rehab, and I take that to when I get home."
As for those skeptical of Chicago's ability to duplicate their success from a year ago, keep in mind that Tom Thibodeau is the team's head coach. Thibs won the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year award and is just as much responsible for the Bulls' success as Rose has been.
The schemes Thibodeau will draw up and the quality of the Bulls' depth within their rotation will keep this team on track for an outstanding regular season.
They've Done It Before, Part II
The Chicago Bulls have won without Derrick Rose before. They've also rushed him back from injury and felt the severe consequences of such actions.
Consistently aggravated minor injuries led to 27 missed regular-season games in 2012. In fact, there were five separate times Rose come back from an injury and found himself back on the sideline within a month.
With that image freshly imprinted in their minds, the Bulls are now well-aware of the risk at hand. Don't forget, Rose missed three of the team's final six regular-season games due to injury.
The torn ACL during the playoffs was just the final strike against his battered legs.
Postseason or Nothing
The Chicago Bulls would love to have Derrick Rose back for the regular season. Their ticket sales would go up, their league-wide exposure would improve and the all-around quality of the team would be marginally better.
The fact of the matter is, the Bulls don't need Derrick Rose for the regular season. What they need him for is the postseason.
If Rose is to return at one point or another, it would be best if he were available for the playoffs. Giving him the final month of the regular season to ease back into things would enable him to reach a full return to form during the first round of the postseason.
It is then that Michael Jordan's former franchise would pursue an NBA championship. After all, it is title or bust for Chicago in a stacked Eastern Conference.
He won't be back until he's healthy. Just don't expect D-Rose to miss the chance at gold.