Enough with the jokes. Enough with the Twitter memes. Enough with the idea that Derrick Rose is no longer an elite point guard in this league.
That's it. No more.
After sitting out for all of the Bulls’ 2012-13 run with a torn ACL, Rose returned last season only to tear the meniscus in his other knee after 10 games.
But now, with essentially two years on the sidelines behind him, Rose is back.
Rose’s athleticism has been jaw-dropping during his time with Team USA this summer. The Most Valuable Player of 2010-11 has been as acrobatic and explosive as ever.
Here’s what the 25-year-old told ESPN’s Nick Friedell on August 14:
I don't have no fear. I have faith. I know that I'm going to be fine. I know that I've busted my [rear-end] the entire two summers, two seasons, in getting back to where I am right now. I'm just trying to keep it moving and stay positive every day. Do everything consistent like I've been doing...just getting my mind clear before I step out here on the floor. And I'm doing everything that Coach K and them want me to do.
Rose, like Bryant, has been doubted. But in this case, there has been a greater element of disrespect.
Rose has been abused for his unwillingness to play in the playoffs, after getting cleared by team doctors two years ago, and he has been mocked incessantly for his lengthy absence from the game.
But when the lights come on and the ball is tipped up, Derrick Rose will be Derrick Rose again.
Here's an excerpt from Friedell on August 5:
"It takes an exceptional person, which is why we're talking about Derrick," Krzyzewski said, discussing how difficult it is to return to such a high level after missing so much time. "I think he's exceptional in every way. He went right at it. The first defensive exchange in the camp, he was all over the ball handler, moving his feet, attacking him. There was a buzz right away because it was basically his saying, 'Look, I'm not just back. I'm back at a level that's elite.'"
Team USA players and coaches continually said Rose was playing like he did before the ACL injury in April 2012. Krzyzewski maintained that during his conference call with media.
"Derrick was sensational the whole week," Krzyzewski said. "He really did that every day, how fast and strong and decisive he was. He really created an air of excitement for the team because we all were anxious to see who he was right now. And who he is is very, very good. We're ecstatic about it and so happy for him."
How redemptive would it be for Rose to hoist another MVP trophy, look into the cameras and simply smile at all the people he proved wrong?
Doubt him all you want now. But don't be surprised if Rose is in the running for the league's most coveted individual award as his Bulls position themselves for a long run through the postseason.