That's the number of games—playoffs and regular season—Derrick Rose has appeared in since his 2010-11 NBA MVP campaign. And that's not a lot.
This, though, is what Rose is up against as he makes his latest return to the hardwood—one that is already generating obscene amounts of fanfare and slathering Rose with thick coats of pressure. And while the pressure is familiar, Rose is hoping the outcome is different.
After an injury-riddled 2011-12 campaign, he suffered an ACL injury that prevented him from logging a single minute in 2012-13. Then 10 games into 2013-14, a meniscus injury ended his year.
Talk has centered on him adapting and overcoming whatever physical limitations fate has placed upon him throughout his string of bad luck. Rose himself is once again dead set on exceeding expectations and ensuring this return is successful, per SLAM:
Force-feeding his critics their own words could be a process that's open for interpretation and can be completed in any number of ways. But it's not.
There is only one way Rose silences his harshest detractors: sustainability.
Never mind everything else for now. Not to imply his performance and abilities are irrelevant. They matter.
Like Rose himself makes clear, he is changing as a player and person, hoping his evolution is enough to make this return his last, per NBC Sports' Kurt Helin:
I think when I came back last time I wanted it too bad. I was trying to force the game. This time around I’m trying to let the game come to me, of course be aggressive at times, but be in control of the game and be smarter, and be able to run the team at the point guard position. ...
I can just shoot it, I can do a lot of catch-and-shoot, just running off floppy. Just trying to make the game easier and find ways to score, find ways to effect the game when I’m not scoring.
These differences in character and playing style have been evident during practices and scrimmages with Team USA ahead of the FIBA World Cup.
Rose is different and the same. He's still active, only more so. He's still smart, only more so. He's still a diligent worker, only more so.
He's still the best version of himself, only more so.
From Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding:
And that's what Rose showed during his short run to start USA Basketball's practice-ending intrasquad scrimmage Monday. When he shot the gap in pick-and-roll defense perfectly to disrupt Stephen Curry's dribble, he knew it. When he forced a shot and then was late getting back on defense as Andre Drummond lumbered behind him, he yelled, "F---!" and really knew it.
The effort, the drive, has not gone unnoticed.
"He's been the most impressive guy here," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said of Rose, per ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell.
Glowing reviews incite hope. From Boeheim to Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski to Coach Thibs, everyone appears to be raving about Rose, paving the way for him to return and conquer the on-court injury demons that have plagued him for the better part of three years.
Except they're not paving a path to anywhere. This route has already been traversed; these inroads have already been made.
Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler said Rose would be better than ever last fall, per the Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Cowley. Durant alluded to the exact same thing around the exact same time, via ESPN Chicago. The "Rose looks phenomenal/spectacular/amazing/better/ready" card has been played before.
It's been played over and over.
Now it doesn't mean as much.
This isn't an ability issue anymore. We've seen Rose dunk, cut, score and pass like it's 2010 and injuries are the last thing on his mind. We know what he can do, what he's capable of.
Availability is the issue.
Can Rose stay healthy? Will his body be true to his abilities?
These are questions we cannot answer, because, per the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson, they are also questions Rose cannot answer:
What Rose needs isn't more praise or additional confirmation that his hard work and perseverance are paying off.
What he needs is time—the opportunity to play through an entire season that isn't interrupted or ruined by injuries, however unlucky and fluky they may be.
Critics will be out in full force until he's regularly available. Complete silence won't be achieved or possible over the course of five, 10 or even 25 games.
Fifty contests aren't even enough.
One year may not even be enough.
Those claiming they know what will happen with Rose after five, 10, 25 and 50 games—along with those who believe Team USA practices and scrimmages portend the future—are sorely mistaken, as Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal posits:
We just don't know yet, leaving him as the league's most intriguing mystery. Anyone who thinks they've solved it and cracked the case at this stage of the offseason, well, they're being a bit delusional.
Not even Rose knows at this stage, even if he's giving off that strong air of confidence.
Not until he's once again a fixture on the court will pressure disappear and Rose agnostics become believers. The playoffs, the production, the explosion—those will all come. They are formalities and complements of a bigger picture painted only by availability and sustainability.
"I wanted to prove everybody wrong at that time," Rose said of his last return, per Ding.
Last year's defiance came at the wrong time in the end, because it wasn't about time. It was a search for instant gratification.
This go-round will be different if, and only if, Rose abandons his attempt to validate what is already fact and instead manages to debunk the only mystery left to solve: that of personal permanence.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!