How Derrick Rose's 'The Return' Campaign Changed Expectations for Bulls Star

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 28:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls shoots while working out before the Bulls take on the Phildelphia 76ers at the United Center on February 28, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Starting in the fall of 2012, a flurry of advertisements emerged promoting "The Return of Derrick Rose"—one of the NBA's most dynamic and awe-inspiring players.

Images of Rose clutching his knee overlaid with audio of Kevin Harlan describing Rose in a world of hurt, saying, "Holding onto his knee and down" became a staple of NBA broadcasts throughout the season. Watching Rose writhe in pain on the floor was a painful reminder of his gruesome injury, but in the end, the ads offered hope that the point guard would make a quick and triumphant return to the floor.

With Rose fighting his way back from a brutal ACL tear, fans were starting to believe that the 2010-11 MVP would work his way back by midseason.

After watching the miraculous feats of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after he tore several ligaments in his knee, it appeared almost certain that Rose would return in short order.

And to inspire more hope, Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks battled his way back from an ACL injury that occurred on the same day as Rose's more than one year ago.

The same passion and desire that drove Peterson and Shumpert to make speedy recoveries appeared to be present in Rose.

A comeback seemed inevitable.

With Adidas chronicling Rose's comeback in its popular web-based series, tangible progress was viewed by millions across the globe.

While reports of Rose's rehabilitation were positive, one thing was missing: a definitive timetable. Although reports emerged of Rose taking full contact in practices as early as January, Rose and the Chicago Bulls were hesitant to make any declarations regarding the point guard's long-term prospects.

Then a month later, video emerged of Rose looking like his old self prior to a nationally televised game between the Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers. He was running, shooting and even dunking with ease.


Then, in early March, ESPN reported that doctors had given Rose the all-clear to take to the floor and make his inaugural appearance of the 2012-13 season.

Still, a return appeared to linger far off in the distance.

In a day and age when athletes have been making returns from devastating injuries at a rapid and seemingly inhuman rate, Rose was being awfully cautious.

One thing became certain: The Return had manufactured a sense of false hope amongst fans.

Even the most innocent sayings like "D Rose will rise" inspired confidence in onlookers and ultimately raised the bar too high.

The series did a fantastic job of showing Rose's desire to return to the floor. There's no denying that. And at the time, it appeared like a brilliant marketing tool to boot.

Rose has always been a relatively private figure around the NBA, and allowing him to open up and explain how the injury and subsequent rehabilitation have affected him was fascinating. Unfortunately, the series only lasted six episodes, concluding at the end of November of 2012.

Rose made significant progress in his rehabilitation, but the series wasn't meant to chronicle his thinking throughout the latter stages of the process.

Leaving off on a positive note (the final episode was titled "All In"), there was no reason to think that Rose wouldn't make a return before the end of the regular season.

We're still waiting for Rose's hard work to culminate in a return.

Fortunately for the Bulls, reports have surfaced recently indicating that Rose may in fact be primed for a return in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. According to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, Rose may not play a substantial role in the series against the Miami Heat, but he could finally don a jersey for the first time in 2013:

Word out of Chicago is that Rose may suit up for Game 3, which will be played this Friday. Suiting up doesn't guarantee that Rose will play, but being in uniform on the bench rather than donning a suit would be a step forward for the 24-year-old. Nothing has been confirmed at this point, but it’s a possibility.

Should Rose suit up for Game 3, his return would signal the end of a painstaking process that has been littered with unnecessary assassinations of his character and accusations of selfishness.