The superstar guard for the Chicago Bulls has had surgery to repair his left knee (May 2012), consulted with associates of the world-renowned Dr. James Andrews (June 2012), returned to on-court activities (August 2012), started putting his knee to the test (November 2012), joined his teammates on road trips and in full-contact practices (January 2013), and started talking to the media again (February 2013).
Rose has spent many of his days since then participating in practice, watching his Bulls battle through the 2013 NBA playoffs while dressed in street clothes, eating Lifesavers on the bench, and perpetually leaving the door wide open for a postseason return.
One that never came (and won't come) now that the Bulls have been bounced from the postseason by the Miami Heat in five games. At long last, we can all stop wondering where, when, and why Derrick will or won't be back in uniform.
Presumably, those questions will be put to bed as soon as the NBA releases its official schedule for the 2013-14 season, for which Rose figures to be ready after nearly a year-and-a-half out of commission.
Nonetheless, the 2012-13 campaign has been a disappointing one (if not unexpectedly so) for Chicago. A return to title contention should already be in the works among the basketball powers-that-be in the Windy City, especially after stringing the fans along through a fruitless "will he or won't he?" saga that the organization refused to squash until the bitter end.
Feb. 18, 2013
Derrick takes part in his first five-on-five activities (scrimmages, drills, etc.) since tearing his ACL. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau reiterates to Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago that Rose is making steady progress, but that he has a ways to go before he's game-ready:
"It's hard to say. He's made some good steady progress. He's right where he should be. There has to be an understanding that in practice you're trying to get to a game-like intensity and you know you're never going to get there, so there's a whole different level to playing in an NBA game. He's making good, steady progress, he's doing fine, he's got to continue to work on his rehab."
Feb. 21, 2013
Reggie Rose, Derrick's older brother, rips the Bulls for not making any moves at the trade deadline and suggests that Derrick's decision to return could be swayed by the lack of championship-caliber talent on the roster. Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago has the quotes:
"What have you pieced together? Have you made any moves? Have you made any trades to get better? You know all roads to the championship lead through Miami. What pieces have you put together for the physical playoffs?
"Joakim Noah is a great player. Luol Deng is a great player. But you need more than that. You have to put together pieces to your main piece. The players can only do so much. It's up to the organization to make them better."
"It's frustrating to see my brother play his heart and soul out for the team and them not put anything around him."
Reggie goes on to suggest that the Bulls haven't ruled Derrick out for the season as a matter of business, and that Rose isn't going to rush back under any circumstances:
"Everyone is expecting Derrick to come back. If Derrick comes back, they're going to sell more tickets. Is the reason for Derrick to come back to win a championship or make money? Right now, I don't believe a championship. Everything in the NBA is financial."
"We can't give a timetable on it. It's up to Derrick. ... It's a possibility [he could miss the season]. It's about Derrick's career. If he plays in the first game and aggravates the injury, what are they going to say about him coming back too soon?
"This isn't a quick decision. This is a career decision. It's not about just making the playoffs. It's about my little brother's career. He has to be ready physically and mentally. I want him to be in a position not to fail and let everyone down."
Tom Thibodeau brushes off Reggie's criticisms when asked about them:
"Obviously, Reggie and Derrick are very close. We share the same concerns about Derrick's health, so that's not anything new. So it's not a big deal. And Reggie's entitled to his own opinion."
"To me it's not a big deal. We all want the same things. We want Derrick's health...and obviously, we're trying to pursue winning a championship. We share that in common. That's his opinion. He speaks for himself, not a big deal."
Later that day, Derrick releases a brief response of his own through the Bulls to his brother's comments:
“I have always felt that the Bulls organization’s goals have been the same as mine and that is to bring another championship to this city.”
Feb. 24, 2013
Derrick dunks off his right foot while working out prior to the Bulls' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Chicago winds up losing in OKC, 102-72.
March 8, 2013
Melissa Isaacson of ESPN Chicago reports that Derrick Rose's doctor has cleared him to play, but that he won't return until he can confidently dunk off his left foot. With the physical integrity of his knee intact, Rose need only overcome his psychological aversion to putting pressure on his healed ACL before he steps back into game action.
Thibodeau, though, hints that whatever clearance Rose received is not, in fact, the final obstacle to be hurdled before he returns to the court:
"He's been cleared to do everything that there is, but before he makes the final step, everyone has to get together and sign off and that hasn't happened yet," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. "As I said, the most important part of this is that we have to trust Derrick and I trust him."
Still, the Bulls are confident that Rose will return before season's end, with mid-March marked as an ideal time frame.
March 26, 2013
The day before the Bulls are slated to take on the Miami Heat and their historic 27-game winning streak, a video surfaces of Derrick going one-on-one against his teammates in practice, sparking another wave of "Will he? Won't he? And, if so, when?" debate around the Association.
Later that day, famed rapper Waka Flocka Flame tweets that Rose is coming back:
March 27, 2013
When asked about Waka Flocka Flame's tweet, Rose tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
“I really don’t know man,’’ Rose said. “Like I said, it’s in God’s hands. Every day I’m just waking up to try and be the best player, try and produce every time I step on the court, just try and get better as a player, and who knows when?
“This is the first time hearing about [the rapper’s tweet]. I guess he’s a fan of mine. That’s the only thing I heard about it. I’m happy he’s a fan of mine. I heard a lot of his music, too.’’
Rose also continues to demonstrate supreme restraint when discussing his recovery, particularly in relation to watching his teammates try to end Miami's historic winning streak without him:
“It’s not hard at all. When you have surgery you’ve got to grow patience. I’ve been patient for the last eight or nine months. I’ve been good.’’
Would he be worried about the health of his knee in 2013-14 if he doesn't end up playing at all this season?
“Not at all. I know the confidence I have in myself in what type of player I am, so when I step on the court I’m going to be better, I know I’m going to be better, so I’m not worried about that.’’
“When I step on the court I’m going to ball. I’m not going to think about it, I’m just going to be out there reacting, so right now, just taking my time and dealing with the whole situation.
“It’s still the same … still the same.’’
For the umpteenth time, Thibodeau tells all who will listen that the Bulls aren't pushing Derrick to come back on any timetable other than his own:
“The most important thing for him and us is we want him to be completely healthy. We have to continue to show patience, let him work his way through it, he’s done a great job with his part. He’s got a power game built on speed, agility, change of direction, stop and go, so it’s unique. We have to make sure he’s comfortable being out there. He’s close, but he’s not quite there.’’
April 20, 2013
After his Bulls secure the fifth seed in the East and a first-round date with the Brooklyn Nets, Tom Thibodeau indicates that Derrick probably won't return for the playoffs...but doesn't go so far as to rule it out. Luke Stuckmeyer of CSN Chicago has Thibodeau saying the following:
"Most likely out, but you never know. The playoffs are stretched out too, so you have to factor that in too. So, who knows another week from now where he is so, you always want to have that possibility open."
May 6, 2013
Derrick doesn't feature at all for the Bulls against the Nets, but Chicago manages to advance in seven games without him. Still, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reports Rose insists that he hasn't ruled out returning in time for the Bulls' second-round series against the Miami Heat (via Yahoo! News):
"Still in the air. I might have a chance."
"My spirits are up," Rose said. "Just happy to be here. My family is here. My teammates are here. Just everybody that we need."
"I haven't had any pressure from anyone — not in the organization, not from my teammates. They know I'm putting everything I have into trying to come back as fast as possible. But just trying to be smart with the whole situation and just take my time."
May 7, 2013
Joakim Noah, who's been battling plantar fasciitis since the regular season, insists that he and the Bulls don't resent Derrick's slow recovery, but, rather, support their injury-stricken teammate. According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, Noah said:
"Derrick is a brother. To see him go through his injury is tough. At the end of the day, it's really funny how quick people are to judge. People do not know what it's like to lead a team, especially after you tear your ACL."
Noah lashes out to an even more vociferous degree in response to TNT analyst and former Bulls player Steve Kerr's assertion that Rose owes it to his teammates to play:
"Everybody who hasn't been in that situation before should really shut up," Noah said. "It's unfair to him and his team. We're fighting. It's crazy to me. He's tough as nails. He doesn't let anything affect him."
May 10, 2013
The Bulls rule Rose out for Game 3 of their series against the Heat in Chicago. General manager Gar Forman tells "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000 (via ESPN.com):
"Our stance has been really consistent since the first day with Derrick. What we've said and what Derrick has said has been, first of all we're going to be very conservative with his rehab. And second of all, in being conservative, when he's ready to play basketball, 100 percent ready to play basketball, that he would play. We're not at that point yet. He continues to make progress and he continues to do well."
May 11, 2013
On the one-year anniversary of Rose's knee surgery, Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago reports that Derrick won't feature at all in the Bulls' series against the Heat, and, moreover, that he'd considered returning in time but eventually opted not to do so.
Says Tom Thibodeau of Rose's situation:
“That’s the way we approached it from the beginning of the year. I think from the outside, we knew it would be a big story. But from the inside, the way we view it is, we knew from the beginning of the season that there was a good chance that he would miss a big chunk of the season and the possibility of him missing the entire season. He knew that from the beginning and the way we approached it — and it hasn’t changed one bit from the beginning — is the players that are available, concentrate on your daily improvement and the next improvement that we’re playing, get ready for the game. Let Derrick handle his rehab and then, hopefully at some point — whether it’s next week, next year — he’ll rejoin us. But for the guys who are here, we’ve got to get it done with what we have, and we have more than enough to win.”
May 15, 2013
The Bulls rule out Rose for Game 5 against the Heat in Miami. Chicago goes on to lose, 94-91, thereby ending the Bulls' season and, along with it, any prospect of Derrick Rose suiting up before October 2013.