The narrative of Derrick Rose's return from injury has intensified from a simple comeback to a saga, and we're one Reggie Rose impromptu press conference away from a full-blown soap opera.
He needs to return, and soon. And whether that's fair or not no longer matters.
Regardless of whether it was Bulls team doctor Brian Cole's intention to pressure Rose into returning, it's not a given he would do so on Jerry Reinsdorf's orders against his own medical opinion. Do you think Cole would publicly clear Rose if he thought a catastrophic re-injury would occur? That would destroy his own career. Much like Rose's job is to play basketball, Cole's job is to diagnose, repair and heal the Chicago Bulls.
If you're defending Rose's reluctance to return because you believe this is a "lost season," you're dead wrong. As great as the Miami Heat have been playing in their 18-game win streak, they're not invincible come May or June. As Bulls fans know too well, owning the top seed in the East doesn't protect you from, say, a freak injury. Keep up the pregame dunkfest, LeBron?
The NBA stretch run is about to begin, and title contenders round into playoff shape in March and April. D-Rose needs to be told it's OK for him to return—sorry, Return—at a 20 minute-per-game clip with a somewhat rusty jumper and merely right-footed dunks. In fact, that is the only way for Rose to get back to MVP-level condition.
If Rose returns this year and the Bulls don't win the NBA championship, this public evaluation of his toughness and dedication will fade away. If he returns and they upset Miami and whoever comes out of the West … he becomes a sports immortal.
But if he skips out on the entire season, the questions of "what if" will always remain, even if he wins a title later in his career. The only way to circumvent the possibility of a career-defining label: play soon, play hard. Play, Derrick.
RedEye special contributor Alex Quigley can be heard on WGN Radio 720. @alexquigley
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