On April 27, 2013, all eyes were on the 2013 NBA playoffs, as the Chicago Bulls outlasted the Brooklyn Nets by a score of 142-134 in triple-overtime. Nate Robinson came one point shy of Michael Jordan's Bulls record with 23 fourth quarter points and finished with 34 total.
In a perfect world, Bulls superstar Derrick Rose uses Chicago's legendary Game 4 as motivation for a return.
In a recent interview with Teddy Greenstein of The Chicago Tribune, Reggie Rose, the 2011 MVP's brother, stated that D-Rose is getting close to a return. To be specific, he's approaching 100 percent from a mental capacity.
Rose even speculated that Derrick could return if Chicago makes it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
"He has been working hard and getting a lot of shots up every day," Reggie said. "Most of all, he is getting his mind ready, getting comfortable with his body. I think (his mind) is probably at a good 90 percent now."
...Rose has not ruled out his brother returning for a potential series with the Heat.
"I think anything is possible," he said.
That may not be a definitive answer, but it's encouraging enough to require debate.
Throughout the duration of the 2012-13 regular season, the Bulls played at a rather mediocre level by their own team standards. They struggled to string together wins and their moments of brilliance were often short-lived.
With a 3-1 series lead, however, the Bulls have sent a message to their leader—"If you're ready to come back, we're ready to contend."
Title Legitimacy Reestablished
Entering the playoffs, the general consensus was that the Brooklyn Nets' star-studded lineup would be too much for the Chicago Bulls to handle. After Brooklyn won Game 1 by a score of 106-89, that notion was temporarily confirmed.
Over the past three games, the Bulls have reestablished their title legitimacy.
They shut the Nets down in Game 2, winning 90-82 and holding star point guard Deron Williams to 1-of-9 shooting. The same could be said about Game 3, as Brooklyn failed to top 80 points for the first time since Feb. 24 in a 79-76 Bulls win.
Game 4 simply proved that Chicago have the will to overcome anyone.
The key for the Bulls moving forward, of course, is having the talent necessary to unseat the Miami Heat. In order to do so, it's a well-known fact of what the Bulls need to transpire.
D-Rose must return.
The Joakim Noah Factor
Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Chicago Bulls entering the postseason was the health status of center Joakim Noah. He's currently battling plantar fasciitis and has consequently had his mobility limited.
That still hasn't stopped him from stepping up during the playoffs.
Noah was sensational during Game 4, playing 39 minutes and tallying 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Even though Noah fouled out, he proved to possess the intestinal fortitude to fight through the pain and did everything he could to achieve victory.
It's now time to ask the million dollar question—will this serve as inspiration for Derrick Rose to return as well?
Rose's injury was career-threatening, more so than Noah's, but that doesn't disregard the factors of pain and risk. As Rose sits on the bench, watching his teammates rise to the occasion and prove to be title contenders, the desire to get on the floor must be rising within him.
When a teammate fights through pain, it's often an infectious process—Chicago is hoping, in unison, that Rose lets Noah be his influence.
Watching the Point Guards
Kirk Hinrich continues to play magnificent defense, containing Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams as well as one could possibly ask. Nate Robinson, meanwhile, recently put on a performance for the ages, flirting with a record set by the great Michael Jordan.
With his teammates stepping up and playing well off of the ball, why wouldn't Derrick Rose return to provide the elite scoring presence to complement them best?
Hinrich can defend the opposing point guard or shift onto a player such as Dwyane Wade due to his ability to shut down slashing scorers. Robinson, meanwhile, has been scoring at an elite level, doing so while playing the 2.
In other words, the transition would be rather effortless for both Hinrich and Robinson—so what's to stop Rose now?
Overcoming a devastating knee injury is hardly an easy task, but there is no question that Rose has the perfect situation to return to. The Bulls are playing at an undeniably great level, but remain one superstar away from overtaking the Miami Heat.
When your teammates pull out a triple overtime victory, overcoming injuries and in foul trouble, there's no way around it—the motivation is there for a return.