Rarely, if ever, do things work out well for an athlete who returns too quickly from a serious injury.
There is a fine line between an athlete being fully ready to return versus an athlete who is champing at the bit to get back into the game before physically being able to do so.
However, it is also incredibly rare for an athlete to take longer than needed to return from an injury.
Needless to say, Rose is certainly not the first athlete to suffer a torn ACL.
- Adrian Peterson was back on the football field eight months after tearing his ACL and managed to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award the very next season.
- Tom Brady tore his ACL during the 2008 NFL season and was back on the field for the start of the 2009 season.
- Tiger Woods tore his ACL and broke two bones in his left leg and was back on the golf course seven months later. He managed to win six PGA Tour events that season.
- Robert Griffin III tore his ACL in early January and will more than likely be back on the football field for the start of the 2013 season.
- Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks tore his ACL on the exact same day as Rose and has been back on the court since late January, although Shumpert now appears to be suffering from a sore knee during the Knicks' playoff series with the Indiana Pacers, which will surely have many ardent Rose supporters saying “See, I told you so.”
The point is that the recovery time for ACL tears for world class athletes tends to be six-to-nine months. In many cases, athletes can come back and perform just as good, if not better, within that time frame.
So why is Rose still sitting on the sidelines more than a year after he tore his ACL?
The answer to that may be as much mental as it is physical.
Perhaps Rose is simply in no rush to get back onto the court and into the glaring spotlight that he has never been fully comfortable with in Chicago.
During a 2012 interview with GQ Magazine, Rose said:
Sometimes it's too much. Chicago isn't used to stardom. Back when Michael [Jordan] was here, everyone was used to actors and singers and people being at the games. But there's been a drought since then, and even celebrities, they'll stop here to film a movie and then pop right back out. They don't know how to act toward celebrity. So I always have someone with me. I can have a hat on, glasses on, whatever. People still notice me. If I go outside without a hat on, I feel like I'm naked. This life doesn’t fit my personality.
Rose added in the GQ article:
It seems like the better I play, the more attention I get. And I can't get away from it. You play great, you get attention. But I hate attention. It is weird. I'm in a bind. The more you win, the more they come.
Obviously, an injury is never a good thing for an athlete, but perhaps deep down, Rose has seen this time away from the game as more of a blessing than a curse.
Rose has clearly never been comfortable with all of the attention that comes with being arguably the best point guard in the NBA. The question then becomes, if Rose is uncomfortable with all of the fame that comes with his on-court success, would he really be in any big rush to get back onto the court?
Perhaps Rose is still struggling to gain strength back into his left knee or Rose is simply not yet in good enough basketball shape to compete at the game’s highest level and feels as if he would hurt his team more than he could help the Bulls at this time.
Then again, it could be a case of Rose just being overly cautious with his multi-million dollar left knee.
One way or another, Rose has been on the Chicago sidelines for nearly 13 months and counting, which has more than a few observers asking whether there is more behind Rose’s extended hiatus from the game.
It is clear that Rose will not be returning to the Bulls this season. It will be at least another five months before he is thrust back into the spotlight.
Normally, another five months away from the game would be a form of torture for an NBA superstar, but for a player like Rose who seems to be more comfortable away from the game than he does on the basketball court, another five months in the shadows may not be such a bad thing.