May 9, 2013, 5:36 PM EST
“Derrick Rose has been cleared by the team doctors, what is his problem?”
“Derrick Rose owes it to his teammates to come back.” (That would be Steve Kerr talking on TNT during the Bulls Game 2 loss).
The pressure from the public and media on Rose to return from his ACL surgery a year ago is growing — especially in Chicago, where the once unassailable star is taking a beating. Why can’t he come back? Why is he soft? We want our athletes to play through anything — like much of the Bulls roster these playoffs. Why won’t Rose? What could go wrong?
Two words for you: Grant Hill.
Grant Hill was a max player, a 25-point a game player with the Pistons who was the next Michael Jordan at the time. He was on his way to a max deal (which he got) and… A fantastic piece at Bloomberg talking to Hill lays it all out (via Deadspin).
Toward the end of that season, Hill’s ankle started bothering him. The Pistons’ trainers treated it and Hill continued playing, but the ankle kept getting worse. After he pulled himself from a game, the team’s doctors assured him that it was merely a bone bruise. Hill sat out the last few games of the regular season, amid criticism that he was worried about jeopardizing his free-agent payday. He returned for the playoffs, but in his second game he felt a “pop” in his ankle. Hill couldn’t go on. The ankle was diagnosed as broken. He underwent surgery four days later.
The story might still have ended happily. In August 2000, three months after his ankle surgery, the Orlando Magic signed Hill to a seven-year, $93 million deal. In September, Orlando cleared him to scrimmage against his new teammates. “I’m going against guys on the Magic that six months earlier I averaged 40 points against,” Hill said. “And I’m not feeling right.”
Hill had four more surgeries and was never right again. He had a long career as a journeyman but he never was the same player again. Not close.
The Magic had made a mistake, pushing Hill back onto the court before his ankle had fully healed. But Hill had made a mistake, too, deferring to the judgment of the team’s doctors and ignoring his own instincts. He stayed in the NBA — he may retire this summer, at 40, after spending the season with the Los Angeles Clippers — but he never played with the same confidence again. “If I had sat out for a whole season, who knows what would have happened?” Hill said.
Team doctors have are hired and paid for by teams — who do you think they are looking out for? It’s why you see many players get second opinions on injuries and treatments.
While Rose may have been cleared to play the Bulls and team doctors haven’t pressured him to do so — frankly the only reason they door hasn’t been fully shut on Rose returning this season is because he will not allow it. Rose is the one who tells the press maybe.
I don’t expect him back for Game 3 despite the rumors, the reports out of the media actually at the practice is that nothing has changed.
And if he does come back at this point, I don’t think it helps the team much — he’s rusty, his minutes will be limited and the Heat will throw really good defenders such as LeBron James and Norris Cole at him. And they will be physical with him — very physical. This series is trending that way.
But those saying he needs to race back for teammates or whatever have lost sight of what really matters to the Bulls — the next decade with Rose leading the Bulls as an elite team. Not these playoffs.
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