Will he or won’t he play?
That’s the biggest question on the mind of all Chicago Bulls fans as their team heads into a Game 3 encounter with the unstoppable Miami Heat. They all hope to see their beleaguered superstar Derrick Rose return to the United Center floor and lead the Bulls to an unexpected playoff win on Friday night. This scenario might be wishful thinking on their part, but this ongoing saga needs to end now.
The controversy has been simmering ever since team doctors cleared Rose to play two months ago, and he hasn't shown any sense of urgency to get back into the rotation. Bull fans have been very frustrated with his decision of not playing, as they feel Rose can be a difference-maker in the playoffs. Sitting at the end of the bench in street clothes is sending mix signals to all involved, something that Michael Jordan would have never done.
Since the Bulls drafted Rose with the first overall pick of the 2008 NBA draft, team management has tried to anoint him as the heir apparent to MJ. They’re different players with a different on-court persona. Jordan was a warrior who would never let an injury dictate his availability to participate in a playoff series let alone a game. He thrived on the challenge of measuring his skills against the top players in the NBA. Often, Jordan’s alpha dog personality willed them into defeat.
Rose will be the centerpiece of the Bulls franchise for years to come, but his return to the lineup isn’t the answer to salvaging a playoff series this season. Everyone in Chicago expects Rose to take that next step in his development, but that might not occur until next year.
His game is predicated on moving aggressively towards the basket, as he uses speed and quickness to keep an opponent back on their heels defensively. Right now, Rose lacks the confidence to complete an offensive move successfully, and you won’t see him on a basketball court until he’s healed both mentally and physically.
The stakes in professional sports have definitely changed for athletes, whether it’s justifying their immense salaries or being the subject of intense scrutiny from the fans and media on a nightly basis. Everyone is quick to make a rash judgment, and athletes are becoming more afraid of laying an egg in front of a sold-out crowd, as that stigma is hard to shake off.
Regardless, if Rose participates in this year’s playoffs, he will have a prominent role on the Bulls next season. The bigger question will be if Rose is still respected inside the team’s locker room, and that won’t be answered until next training camp. It’s best for both sides to decide his fate right now; either have Rose suit up for Game 3 or rule him out for the remainder of the playoffs.
In basketball, success is judged by how many championships a player has won in his career. Rose wants to add some jewelry to his resume, but not at the expense of his future. Bulls fans are patiently waiting for that first championship before they can begin making some comparisons.