When Derrick Rose suffered yet another season-ending injury on Nov. 22, some feared the torn meniscus in his "good" knee might spell the demise of his career.
Fear not, though. LeBron James is positive we will see the old Rose again.
Prior to the Miami Heat's game against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night, James spoke to Chris Johnson of SI.com about Rose. LeBron echoed the experience of many NBA fans, saying, "(I) didn’t want to believe it...I was actually at home watching the game."
Certainly it was unfortunate and no one wanted to see Rose injured again, but James expressed great confidence when asked if the Bulls point guard could return to the form that won him the MVP in 2011: "No doubt. He’s very young, but more than that he’s very determined. I think he’ll be great."
With James' vote of confidence, a bar has been set for Rose's rehab: Get back to form and try to beat LeBron. Apparently, Rose is pretty confident he'll get back to 100 percent as well.
According to Mike Singer of CBSSports.com, Rose addressed the media before Thursday's game and responded to a question about whether he could return for the playoffs, saying, "If I'm healthy, and the situation is right, I'm playing."
Not only that, but Rose also apparently thinks he can be even better when he returns, at least according to ESPN's Nick Friedell.
The problem with this belief is that Rose's style of play often puts him in harm's way. Much as Tony Parker is fond of doing, Rose charges into the lane seeking the hoop and often absorbs contact. That's his game and he's not changing it, but his knees do not agree with all of that constant banging.
Moreover, the medical community is not nearly as confident about the point guard's recovery as LeBron or Rose himself.
Sean Deveney of the Sporting News spoke with Dr. Derek Ochiai, an orthopedic surgeon from Virginia, about Rose's injury. On the plus side, Dr. Ochiai offered his opinion that the injury to the other knee was just "bad luck" and not related to his ACL tear suffered in the 2012 playoffs.
Unfortunately, Dr. Ochiai did not paint a very rosy picture for Rose's recovery prospects:
It might not heal. The success rate for meniscal tears is not close to 100 percent, but the younger somebody is, being an athlete, a non-smoker—those things help so there is less of a chance of it not healing. If you follow the protocol and limit range of motion, and you brace appropriately, use crutches appropriately, all those things, it is still about an 80 percent chance it heals, maybe 85 percent. If it doesn’t, he has to either do a re-repair or take out the torn part.
So if there's an 80 or 85 percent chance that the recovery is completely successful and no further procedure is required, that means the chances of him returning to his MVP form are significantly less.
And as for coming back even better, you can throw that out the window.