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The Bulls won't be completely out of the woods even when they get Derrick Rose back in uniform, though. Said Mackie Shilstone:
Once they get him to the point in saying, “okay, he’s a full go”, then he’s going to be a maintenance project. They’re going to put him on the flight line, put him out there in the battle zone, get him shot up like any plane does, and they’re going to have to put him back in, land him on the carrier deck, put him down below, patch him up and get him ready to play again tomorrow. The maintenance program is going to be as important as the surgery. They’re going to have to maintain him to be ready to go.
Military analogies aside (ones that Rose, an aeronautics enthusiast, would probably appreciate), Rose's recovery will be rendered moot if the Bulls don't take the proper precautions with their superstar after he returns from injury. His progress will have to be monitored carefully and the reins must be kept tight in the early going until he's back up to speed.
To be sure, with the way the Bulls have handled Rose so far, there's every reason to believe they'll proceed with extreme care upon his return. Likewise, there's at least some cause to think that Derrick might come back stronger than ever, particularly given recent developments in the world of sports medicine. Added Shilstone:
Based on Adrian Peterson, I’d say yes. I mean, Adrian Peterson goes from surgery to nine yards short of the single-season record in rushing, and he’s being hit in the legs. So, yeah, there’s an incredible opportunity for him. I think he’s going to be a good example of this...
Many times in rehab, the athlete is working harder than he’s ever worked in his life. But you may be missing one point—this is a make-or-break situation. There’s a lot of research on the psychological side of being injured as an athlete. It either makes some or it breaks some, and it does so because of the fact that they’re vulnerable, they’re vulnerable mentally. It becomes a turning point for them. It makes them either emotionally stronger or emotionally weaker. And if Derrick Rose comes back and does well, then he’s an emotionally stronger one, and that will make him a better player, especially in the mental aspects of the game, because so much of the game is the mental side.
I think the mental side, in this case, may be one of the most important factors in his rehabilitation. Has he matured mentally from being a superstar to being damaged goods? Could he handle that mentally? And then, coming back, if he’s a stronger man, then everything else is going to take care of itself.