After surprisingly dropping Game 1, the Miami Heat have roared back with two consecutive victories and lead the Chicago Bulls 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Some Bulls fans are still hoping that star point guard Derrick Rose will return to action, but at this point it simply doesn't matter.
Perhaps the return of a former NBA MVP would give the Bulls an emotional boost, however, they are overmatched. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat have turned up the intensity since their Game 1 loss, and they seem poised to knock the Bulls out in five games.
Rose has been medically cleared to play for two months, but he obviously doesn't feel comfortable enough to suit up. It would make very little sense for Rose to return now with as few as two games remaining in the Bulls' season. He would be risking further injury and potentially jeopardizing Chicago's 2013-14 season.
There is an entire offseason ahead of him that will allow him to get his knee right, so why return during a series that the Bulls have virtually no chance of winning anyway? Pressure has been mounting on Rose to come back, but he hasn't given in yet, and it would be silly for him to listen to his detractors now.
The criticism of Rose has gotten louder and more creative since the playoffs started. Rose's presence on the sidelines has even inspired a number of Internet memes. One of the most creative came by way of a LeBron James fan page as it suggested that Adidas should release new Rose playoff shoes.
Whether it's fair or not, plenty of basketball fans have gotten some laughs at Rose's expense. It has to be frustrating for Rose to watch his team struggle and to see all the negative comments being thrown in his direction. The rash and unintelligent decision would be to play and try to prove people wrong, but it wouldn't be the right move for Rose at this point.
It isn't as if Rose would be stepping into a nondescript regular-season game against the Charlotte Bobcats. If Rose is going to be a difference maker for the Bulls, he will have to play at an extremely high level under a great deal of pressure against the unquestioned best team in basketball.
As Sports Illustrated puts it, the expectations surrounding Rose if he were to return would be massive and likely unrealistic. He has been out of action for more than a year, and there is no chance that he would be the same player that fans have grown accustomed to seeing.
The Heat simply have too much firepower for the Bulls to contend with. If Rose was in top form and the likes of Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng were healthy as well, then perhaps it would be a different story. That isn't the case, though, and the Heat are the closest thing possible to a guarantee when it comes to making it to the NBA Finals and repeating as champions.
Despite that, there are still plenty of fans imploring Rose to play. Even Olympic champion swimmer Ryan Lochte believes that Rose should come through for his team and return to action.
Of course, it's ridiculous for anyone to suggest that they know what Rose's limitations are. The only person who knows for sure is Rose himself. It's hard to believe that a competitor like Rose would sit out if he was physically able to play, so fans should take his word for it.
Even if Rose is healthy now, though, it wouldn't be the best idea to send him out there. The Bulls have accomplished an incredible amount in the face of adversity this season, but they have run into a buzz saw in the form of the Heat, and not even Rose can do anything to stop the inevitable.
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