The Chicago Bulls needed all the help they could get against the defending champions in the Eastern Conference semifinals this season.
Unfortunately for them, former MVP Derrick Rose never showed up...literally.
Rose, who tore his ACL in the first round of the playoffs last year, had been cleared by doctors in March, but he elected to be cautious with the injury, failing to return to the hardwood at any point during the season.
The result? The Bulls—who also saw the banged-up Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng miss Game 5—ended up shooting 39 percent for the series as they fell to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in five games. They averaged 84.2 points in those five games.
While uplifting players such as Nate Robinson and second-year pro Jimmy Butler rose to meet the challenge against the Heat during the playoffs, Rose was nowhere to be found on the court.
Even Wade, who had a gruesome knee injury, suited up for the Heat on Wednesday, posting 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals in the 94-91 victory.
Rose became a punchline throughout the season, and that didn't end after the Game 5 loss.
Eric Stangel, executive producer and writer for Late Show with David Letterman, tweeted after the game:
Finally Derrick Rose can get some rest...— Eric Stangel (@EricStangel) May 16, 2013
Derrick Rose: "OK, I'm ready"— Marcel Mutoni (@marcel_mutoni) May 16, 2013
All we need now is video of Derrick Rose telling the Bulls "Good job, good effort" as they walk off the floor.— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 16, 2013
Rose was sorely needed against a Miami team that held opponents to 44 percent shooting during the regular season and 41 percent shooting in the playoffs before Game 5 on Wednesday. But a man who instantly became one of Chicago's most popular figures during his first four seasons in the league has now become a scapegoat.
The city is left applauding those who gave their all for the Bulls this season, torn between loving and hating the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft.