Stop the presses, put an end to the reports and cut out the rumors.
This young man has no obligation to his franchise or fanbase other than reaching a full recovery—no matter how long that may take.
If you're lost on where I'm going with this: Derrick Rose has been nothing but wise to take a careful approach to his recovery.
Rose has been absent since tearing his ACL in late April of 2012 (via 76ers" target="_blank">ESPN Chicago). He underwent surgery on May 12, 2012 at the Rush University Medical Center (via The Chicago Sun-Times).
Since then, fans have joined the Chicago Bulls organization in restless anticipation of Rose's potential return.
In recent weeks, Rose has rejoined the Bulls at practice. As one might imagine, rumors of his return have run rampant.
Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago reported on Feb. 18 that Rose looked "really good" during 5-on-5 drills. Chris Broussard of ESPN followed that with a report that sources close to the situation claimed D-Rose looks "ready to go."
Unfortunately for those hopefuls out there, Tom Thibodeau made it clear that Rose's return is still an afterthought during an interview with ESPN Radio Chicago on the Afternoon Saloon:
“I think in any situation like this you hope for the best but you plan for the worst. That’s a possibility that he could miss the entire season and if that’s the case then that’s fine. We just want him to be healthy and ready to go. Whenever that is we will deal with that. For our team nothing is going to change.”
And that's the bottom line.
Until Rose is ready long-term, there is no reason to bring him back short-term. Even if Rose were to come back and lead the Bulls to an NBA championship, we'd be remiss to ignore the risks.
Risks that go deeper than a surgically repaired knee.
More Than a Knee
The 2011-12 NBA season will forever be remembered as the time in which Derrick Rose tore his ACL. What we can't forget, however, is that Rose had been fighting injuries all season long.
The injury saga began in January of 2012, as Rose battled a case of turf toe on his left foot (via The Chicago Tribune). Roughly a month later, Rose was again sidelined with muscular damage to his back (via ESPN Chicago).
Upon returning, Rose suffered a pulled groin and missed 12 additional games (via The Chicago Sun-Times). That's a theme to follow.
Rose then suffered a right ankle injury during his first game back (via ESPN Chicago). Believe it or not, that wasn't the end of Rose's injury-plagued season.
He suffered a right foot injury just two games after returning from the ankle ailment (via The Chicago Tribune). This, again, kept him sidelined.
That makes five injuries and 27 games missed before the torn ACL.
With all of this in mind, the notion of rushing Derrick Rose back for the sake of the team is neutralized. After all, Rose suffered six total injuries in 2011-12—almost all of which were a product of rushing back too soon from another ailment.
So why risk the long-term future of your organization for an outside shot at winning a title in 2012-13?
If Rose sits out for the rest of this season, Bulls fans should accept this as a positive sign for the future. It means that their star player would rather take care of his body than jeopardize his career.
During an October 2012 interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN, Rose made it clear that he didn't mind sitting out the entirety of the 2012-13 season. He echoed the sentiment in an interview roughly two weeks ago with ESPN Chicago.
It's all about being ready.
"I really don't know," he said. "I'm feeling good, but like I said, if it's where it's taking me a long time and I'm still not feeling right, I don't mind missing this year."
If that proves to be the case, so be it.
Bulls fans may be desensitized to injuries after the long-lasting legacy of Michael Jordan. For instance, Jordan missed a majority of the 1985-86 regular season with a broken foot.
MJ proceeded to come back for the playoffs and score a record 63 points. Larry Bird described the performance as "God disguised as Michael Jordan" (via NBA.com).
What we fail to acknowledge, however, is that the Bulls lost that game and were swept out of the playoffs during the first round—no slight on MJ, just a bit of a reality check for Rose.
If D-Rose returns, there is no guarantee that Chicago will win a single playoff game. After all, nothing is guaranteed come the postseason.
With nothing but uncertainty ahead of him, what else can we do but embrace the painful virtue of patience?