For nearly 10 months, the city of Chicago, Illinois has been impatiently waiting to here the words, "Derrick Rose is back." With reports floating around that Rose is getting closer, anticipation for such an event is at an all-time high.
Rather than becoming a prisoner of the moment, the Chicago Bulls must be patient when the time comes for Rose to return.
After his first 5-on-5 drills since tearing his ACL in April of 2012, Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago reported that Rose looked "really good." Those two words were all it took for Bulls fans to enter a frenzy.
Chris Broussard of ESPN simply threw fuel on the fire.
Eyewitness at D Rose's first 5-on-5 practice Monday said Rose looks "ready to go." Said Rose looks like he's able to play in games.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 20, 2013
Slow down, Bulls fans.
With this freshly imprinted in our minds, numerous fans and analysts were speculating when it could be that D-Rose actually returned.
According to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, Rose has taken the "next step."
"The big thing is you have to recognize the intensity of practice is different than the intensity of a game," [Chicago Bulls head coach Tom] Thibodeau said. "So he's made the next step, he's got to do this for a while, there's no timetable, he's making good progress, he's right where he should be, we just want him to continue to concentrate on the rehab and when he's ready to go he'll go."
And that's the bottom line.
Looking "ready to go" in a practice is far from the same thing as being able to play a game, whether regular season or otherwise. For that reason, it is imperative that Rose takes his time.
No matter how badly Bulls fans want to forget what happened the last time he didn't.
A Real 2012 Recap
When asked about Derrick Rose's 2011-12 NBA season, many people will jump to the end. They'll tell you where they were and what they were doing when Rose went down, grabbing at his knee during Game 1 of the Bulls' opening-round series.
What those people seem to forget is that there were injuries before the torn ACL.
Rose missed 27 regular-season games due to injury in 2011-12. It started in January, when Rose missed action due to what was described as "turf toe" (via the Chicago Tribune).
In February, Rose fell victim to muscular damage in his back (via the Chicago Tribune).
Come March, Rose was battling a groin injury that kept him out for 12 games before returning on April 8 against the New York Knicks (via the Chicago Tribune). It was then that Chicago learned an important truth.
They rushed him back.
That warrior's spirit that Bulls fans love about D-Rose ended up costing him 27 regular-season games—it may have also left his legs weak enough to suffer the infamous torn ACL.
Doing It Right
After attempting to prematurely return from injuries in 2011-12, Derrick Rose knows better in 2012-13. That's exactly why he stated that he "wouldn't mind missing" the remainder of the season (via Yahoo! Sports).
No matter how passionate he may be, Rose learned what can happen if you don't properly heal your body. Don't expect him to make the same mistake twice.
That's exactly why the Bulls, as an organization and fanbase, must display patience in these trying times. Even if Rose is to miss the remainder of the season, his long-term future is of far more important than just one year.
After all, we nearly saw his career wither away as his knee gave out from under him.
If Chicago wants to see their franchise flourish with Rose in a leadership position, patience is the only route to take. It's a frustrating and trying time, but the progress is more important than the process.
As long as Rose has the support of his fans and organization, his return will come when it's meant to be.