The youngest MVP in league history is still sidelined. And catching some heat for it.
It has been just over a year since the Chicago Bulls star point guard tore his ACL in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs.
After months of rehab, speculations on his return and his continued absence from the court, many Bulls fans have grown impatient with Derrick Rose's return.
But is it fair?
Rose is just making sure that when he does return, he can play at the same level he's used to playing without suffering any setbacks. In an interview with USA Today on March 21, Rose explained that his health was his main priority.
Asked how badly he wants to play, Rose said, "Bad."
"But knowing that my health is the biggest key, where I'm only 24 years old, I got the whole future in front of me I'm just trying to take my time," he said.
If there's anything Bulls fans should know about Rose, it's that he lives for the game of basketball. He plays hard, his heart and passion are unmatched and he is one of the best leaders the league has seen.
So why is it that this injury has suddenly erased that image?
It's mainly due to how the situation has been handled.
It all started when head coach Tom Thibodeau revealed Rose was participating in full-contact practices (via ESPN). Most fans expected him to be back after the All-Star break since the belief was that he only needed to pass a few more tests.
This was followed by reports of Rose participating in 5-on-5 practices, which only fueled the already high anticipation for his return.
It wasn't until Rose was cleared to play, though, that things went south.
A return was expected shortly after the report surfaced. Rose was already participating in full practice; the only thing stopping him was his confidence in dunking off of his left foot.
However, weeks passed and there was still no return. And Rose's answers weren't changing, just more of the same "I'll be ready when I'm ready" responses.
The truth is if the Bulls had never revealed that he was cleared, the criticism on Rose wouldn't be as big.
Michael Wilbon said it best:
The biggest mistake of this season was Bulls management not coming out in October and saying, "As far as we're concerned, Derrick Rose will sit out this season and anything else will be a bonus, a complete surprise." (via ESPN Chicago)
Is the Derrick Rose criticism jusitifed?
It's not to say the frustration shown by fans isn't unwarranted. The Bulls have performed extremely well this season; with Rose, there's a chance they would be a title contender.
Regardless, Rose has done everything right.
He's taking care of his future and ensuring that the Bulls have their franchise player and a chance at an NBA championship in the near future. More importantly, he's doing everything at his own pace.
His brother Reggie Rose shares the same sentiment that D-Rose's career is on the line.
"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." (via ESPN Chicago)
So how should fans feel about Derrick Rose?
They should be as patient as Rose has been throughout his rehab. Putting pressure or criticizing an established franchise player is the wrong way to go about it.
Nobody knows Rose's body and physical limitations better than he does. If he doesn't feel he's ready to play, fans should understand that.
There's no reason Rose would want to sit out an entire season just for the sake of sitting out.
He's merely doing what he believes is best for his career and the future of the team.