Why Criticizing Derrick Rose's Return Date Completely Misses the Point

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Why Criticizing Derrick Rose's Return Date Completely Misses the Point
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Derrick Rose should return when he, his trainers, his coach and all the pertinent personnel involved determine that he’s ready. He should not return a day sooner or later, and if anyone doesn’t get that, they are completely missing the point.

When I was in fifth grade, I learned the stupidest lesson I’ve learned to this day in my life, that “there is no such thing as a wrong opinion.” I remember thinking, “Well, I don’t agree with that, and since my opinion can’t be wrong it proves Im right, and therefore you’re wrong.”

We live in world of egalitarian logic and it’s maddening.

I once worked with a man we called “Readers Digest Guy.” He got this nickname because he read an article in Readers Digest on psychiatry and spent an entire workday arguing with someone who had a PhD in psychiatry. It typified him.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but not every opinion merits the same level of respect. Some opinions deserve a lot, and some don’t deserve any at all.  There are three things which can lend or remove credibility to an opinion.

 

Facts

Virtually any opinion, on any objective subject, is utterly worthless if it isn't supported by facts. Obviously, this excludes a completely subjective topic, such as your favorite flavor of ice cream. On the objective subjects though, you need facts, and by facts I mean things which are substantively true.

It is preposterously annoying when people say things like, “Fact: LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world.” It may indeed be true, but that doesn’t mean it is a fact.

It is a fact that he is only the 12th player in the history of the NBA to record 20,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 5,000 assists. It is a fact that he’s done so at an age two years younger than anyone in history. It is a fact that he has the highest career Player Efficiency Rating since Michael Jordan.

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Based on those facts, you can argue the opinion that he is the best player in the world.

Facts are constants. They don’t change from one person to the next. How many points per game Kobe Bryant has doesn’t change from me to you, regardless of what our opinions on Kobe Bryant are. What the facts mean can be debated, but what they are cannot be.

Facts are the underlying foundation of any opinion, and without them, your opinion is meaningless.

On the subject of Derrick Rose, in order to offer some kind of opinion about when he should or shouldn’t return, you need substance. You need facts. You need sources that know and understand the facts if you don’t know them directly.

Merely stating, as some have, that “everyone knows it takes a year for a person to recover from an ACL tear,” does not establish much of a foundation in fact, nor is “everyone knows” an adequate source to establish the facts.

First, it’s not a fact because it isn’t true. When it comes to recovery times, there is no constant. Different people recover at different times. According to medicine.net the average recovery time is nine months. Obviously, when you’re talking about Rose, there are all kinds of different parameters involved.

Rose is a professional athlete, and not just a professional athlete, but one who cuts as sharply and quickly as perhaps any professional athlete in any sport, which means he will have more pressure put on his knee than most anyone. Ergo, he may need more recovery time.

On the other hand, he also has the best team of surgeons and physical therapists that money can buy, quite literally. That's going to speed up the timeline.

That’s why anyone at all, even an orthopedic surgeon, isn’t qualified to offer an opinion about when Rose’s knee is ready from afar. Only the doctors who have been working on him are qualified to offer a medical opinion regarding when he comes back.

Don’t be Readers Digest Guy. Let the doctors do the talking, and if the doctors have cleared him, respect their opinion more than your own. If the doctors haven’t cleared him, don’t presume you know better.

Of course you can chose to not believe what they say, but we’ll address that later.

 

Logic

Another way that you can make your opinion easy to ignore is by using bad or fallacious logic. A fallacy is logical error that renders an argument invalid.

In America we love fallacies. They are our primary means of debate.

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Online, it’s hard to read an argument that isn’t loaded with them. Even with (or maybe even especially with) professional writers who are paid to deliver their opinion, we can’t escape straw men, red herrings, false comparisons and so on.

For example, Michael Wilbon, who in general is pretty sound, argues that since the Chicago Bulls aren’t going to get past the Miami Heat anyway, there is no point in the Bulls taking the risk of having Rose come back this season.

The reward for Rose returning, say, this week is minimal. To what end? Would his return enable the Bulls to beat Miami in the second round? Third round? No, neither. But the risk is incalculable.

Wilbon erects a straw man, which is a false argument easier to defeat. Usually it is a subtle distinction from the actual argument, which is much more difficult to defeat.

Wilbon sets up a straw man by hinging the case for whether or not Rose returns on the Bulls' chances to beat the Heat. But that’s not the real argument. The real argument is that Rose should return if he is healthy enough to play. Beating or not beating the Heat has nothing to do with it.

Consider this. If the Bulls had a 50 percent chance of beating the Heat with Rose, and it were a risk for Rose to come back, would anyone argue that he should come back? Hardly. Certainly owner Jerry Reinsdorf wouldn’t. Certainly Rose wouldn’t want to return. And I’m fairly certain that Wilbon wouldn’t be writing about how he should play.

The litmus test is whether or not he can play without any higher risk of injury. Melissa Isaacson quotes a “source” as saying that according to Rose’s doctors,  there is “no more chance of the former MVP getting injured upon his return than anyone else.”

The issue of when Rose returns does not rest upon how far the Bulls can go, but upon when it is safe for him to play—and that should be determined by his doctors, not by Michael Wilbon, any other reporter, the fans or anyone who is not involved directly with Rose’s care

And, as many have pointed out, Rose was essentially cleared to play the moment he started playing five-on-five, full-contact practices, as he has been since before the All-Star break. Wilbon’s premise is that there is a risk. According to Rose’s doctors there isn’t one. Who knows more about Rose’s condition?

The other flawed part of Wilbon’s argument that it presumes the only thing to be derived from a return this season is potential success in the postseason.

There are other benefits to Rose returning this year. First, there is merely the confidence of having played. Art Rondeau, a neuro-linguistic programmer, writes a superb article for Bleacher Report in which he discusses the benefits of playing for the sake of playing (predicated upon actually being healthy enough to play).

Rondeau states,

This isn’t about D-Rose helping the Bulls win a game.  It’s about helping D-Rose get back on the horse that threw him and about getting him critical information that will allow him to get back on that horse, full time, as quickly as possible.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Another aspect is that the Bulls are facing some personnel decisions this summer, and one big question is who the starting shooting guard will be. Assuming that they don’t pick up the contract option on Rip Hamilton, who has played just 1,706 minutes in two seasons, they will need one.

Meanwhile, Marco Belinelli has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 14.2 points with an effective field-goal percentage of .484 as a starter. How well will Rose play with him? This is a question that would be easier to answer if there were a chance to see Rose play with him in regular games.

Finally, even if the Bulls don’t beat the Heat, why not give the fans the thrill of the chase? If there is no risk, what does it hurt to try? You know that old adage, “If you don’t think you can succeed, give up and go home?”

Neither do I.

 

Experience

There are objective opinions, which need to be established in facts and sound logic, as outlined above, and there are subjective opinions as well. Subjective opinions live much more in the realm of "can’t be wrong." There is no “wrong” opinion about what the best ice cream is. But that doesn’t mean all subjective opinions are created equal.

“I scream” isn’t the same as ice cream. Some people want to believe that volume and “really feeling that way” make opinions valid. Because you have a subjective feeling doesn't mean you have a subjective opinion. Nor does screaming give your subjective opinion merit; experience does.

You can have a favorite ice cream but you can’t have an opinion about ice-scream you never tasted.

In analyzing whether Rose should return, there is a degree of the subjective involved. Too many people who are offering opinions on the subject have not seen Rose play. Those who have are singing in unison, "Rose is looking good."

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Bulls color analyst, Stacey King, told Carmen and Jurko of ESPN 1000,

I saw him work out (Wednesday) in Sacramento. It was probably the most explosive I've seen him since he's been back. He looked really, really good. He was jumping off the (left) leg. He was working with coach Ron Adams. And he looked very, very explosive.

Rich Bucher, Comcast NBA analyst, took to Sulia to give his thoughts after seeing Rose work out,

I tweeted Friday that Derrick Rose has clearly expanded his offensive arsenal. You asked for more details, so here they are: a much smoother, higher-arcing 3; a quick-release step-back mid-range jumper; and you know that trademark right-handed floater from 10-12 feet? He's working on being able to make the same shot from the same distance left-handed. Spoke with him after the game and while he remained non-commital about whether or not he'll play this season, he made a point of saying that the team is putting no pressure on him to return. I don't get the sense he's afraid of anything, including how his knee will respond once he's back; it's simply a matter of giving himself the optimal chance of not having any recurring issues once he does return. He's smart enough to know that several weeks of practice or hard training doesn't mean his body, including the ligaments in his knee, are fully ready to go as hard as he always has. It seems unlikely for someone to grow in height at 24, but I'd swear he's gone from 6'3" to 6'4". I'm the former and we were eye level the last time I spoke to him. All in all, he seemed to be in great spirits and, while it was merely a pre-game workout and a brief post-game conversation, I fully expect DRose 2.0 to be even better than the original.

Those who have watched Rose play are on the same page. He’s looking really, really good. While I’ve read numerous accounts of analysts and teammates who have been impressed by how good he looks, I have yet to see a first-person account of him contradicting that.

Many people are arguing that he shouldn’t return this year under any circumstance. There are also some people (mainly fans commenting on articles) who argue based on those reports that Rose is being “weak-minded” and that he should return now.

The same argument applies to them. Based on what experience do any of us have to make assessments of Rose’s state of mind? What happens if he returns too soon and gets injured?  There are maybe 20 to 30 people in the world who are close enough to Rose to offer a subjective opinion, and they aren’t doing it.

Only one person, Derrick’s brother Reggie, has stipulated anything to suggest that Rose is holding back, and both the Rose brothers have stated that Reggie was not speaking for Derrick.

Similarly, some are attacking the Bulls organization for “rushing” Rose back, in spite of the fact that every report has said the opposite. Not one person affiliated with the Bulls has gone on record as pushing for Rose to return, and per the Bucher report, Rose isn’t feeling pressured by the organization.

There are subjective opinions, but twice and thrice removed subjective opinions don’t carry much weight. What we read about what someone said to someone else doesn’t qualify us to say what they “really meant.”

Which sentiment regarding Rose's return do you most agree with

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We can’t assume that we know who every “source” is. Nor can we assume that “source” doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

The hoopla and controversy surrounding Rose’s return is completely made up. There is none. It’s all speculation from outside people looking in and guessing by “reading between the lines.”

Reading between the lines is just a way of inserting a completely unsubstantiated opinion into the conversation. It doesn’t merit a credible opinion.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not every opinion deserves equal respect, and many deserve none at all. Rose should return when he and his team feel he’s ready, no sooner and no later. At least, that’s my opinion. 

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