According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com, former NBA MVP Derrick Rose may suit up for Game 3 of the Chicago Bulls' Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Miami Heat. For those confused, that means Rose could be donning his uniform.
Before committing to a return, however, Rose must not confuse the Bulls' postseason heroics with the reason for his return.
On Apr. 28, I made the claim that Rose needed to use the Bulls' 142-134 triple-overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets as motivation to return. The point of that article was not to rush D-Rose, however, but instead to light a fire under him.
As long as his body permitted it, the time for a return was upon us.
With that being said, Rose cannot allow the pressure of the outside world to force him into an early return. Instead, he must only come back if the motivation is met by true preparation.
A doctor's note can only go so far to determine just that.
In order to truly understand what Rose is going through, it's important that we gauge the perspective of current and former players. As athletes who have competed at the NBA level and faced their own share of injuries, they are the ones who can offer the perfect insight.
As one might expect, the NBA community has been torn between stances.
Players Weigh In
As fate would have it, numerous players have weighed in on Derrick Rose's current situation. Surprisingly, the general consensus amongst active players is that Rose is doing the right thing by waiting it out.
Per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports, the ever-emotional Joakim Noah defended his teammate.
"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."
Coincidentally, someone who has gone through this decided to chime in.
According to Jonathan Mahler of Bloomberg.com, 19-year veteran and current Los Angeles Clippers forward Grant Hill weighed in on the issue. For those unfamiliar, Hill battled ankle injuries and oftentimes rushed back from surgery.
In turn, a Hall of Fame career was crippled because of impatience and the unrelenting pressure of an NBA fanbase.
“It’s noble and admirable what Noah and Robinson and these guys are doing. But to compare that to what Rose is going through is irresponsible.”
“Here’s the thing,” Hill says. “You want Derrick Rose to come back as Derrick Rose the great MVP, all-star player that he is -- to have that feeling when he steps on the court that no one can stop him. I remember that feeling from when I was young.”
I give you the quote that changed my perspective:
“If I had sat out for a whole season, who knows what would have happened?” Hill said.
Do you really want to say the same thing about Derrick Rose in 10 years?
If He's Ready
We've touched on what the current players have said in regard to Derrick Rose's injury and potential return. What we haven't acknowledged, however, is what the former players are saying.
I've really supported the Bulls and Derrick with the way they’ve handled it. I think you err on the side of caution. But I think where the Bulls are now with this series with Kirk Hinrich struggling with the calf injury -- if Derrick is OK and there’s no threat to further injury, I think he's got to play. He has to put himself out there for 15-20 minutes.
Look at what [Joakim] Noah and [Kirk] Hinrich are putting themselves through with their injuries...maybe he owes it to his teammates, I guess that’s what I’m saying.
Keep in mind, Kerr was a member of Michael Jordan's era of the Bulls.
The truth of the matter is, Kerr hit the nail on the head with every aspect of his evaluation. As long as there is no chance that Rose will aggravate his knee injury, then he does owe it to his teammate to hit the court.
The key, however, is playing with no threat of aggravation.
Rose doesn't need to step in and be an MVP, but instead provide his on-court presence. Even if his appearance is limited to roughly 15 to 20 minutes, as Kerr speculated, that's enough to send a message.
A leader's greatest strength is his ability to motivate—if his knee is ready, and only if it's ready, Rose must do just that by lacing up the shoes and joining his teammates in Game 3.