Derrick Rose: 100% or sit, nothing in-between

An eerily familiar drop of my gut occurred during Thursday night’s Chicago Bulls-Toronto Raptors game as superstar point guard Derrick Rose seemingly slipped on a wet spot and collapsed to the court in pain.  With Rose immediately grasping his knees, my thoughts quickly raced through what another season without Derrick Rose might be like. Thankfully, these thoughts won’t be coming to fruition for at least the near future as Rose has reportedly been diagnosed with “cramps” in his legs. But my thoughts, along with Twitter’s reaction following Rose’s exit of the game in the late stages of the fourth quarter, got me thinking of what Bulls fans really want out of Rose.

The Chicago Mindset

It seems ironic to me that the city of Chicago has wavered so heavily in their perception of Rose over the course of the past two and a half years. Whether it be Rose’s lack of public speaking skills (which were on full display earlier this week) or the lack of certainty surrounding his health, it seems like Bulls fans don’t know exactly what they want out of Rose. A perfect example of this came this season as Rose was battling to overcome having sprained both his ankles on the same play during the Halloween night game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. While some fans were comfortable with him sitting until he felt that he was fully recovered, others wanted him to play through the pain.

These differences in the pulse of the fans’ feelings are exactly the type of issues surrounding what people want out of Rose. Everyone knows that Rose needs to be healthy come playoff time if the Bulls want a chance at winning a title, so what is the point of playing against the Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers in November? This idea of fans wanting Rose to play in these games if he isn’t 100% healthy is the exact opposite of what they were calling for earlier in the season when the petitions for coach Tom Thibodeau better managing his player’s minutes during the regular season made their way around various web and media outlets.

So let me get this straight…You want Rose to play through a sprained ankle in November against the worst team in the NBA, but you also want Thibodeau to do a better job of managing his player’s (Derrick Rose in particular) minutes. Seems like pretty flawed logic to me.

We’ve Seen This Before…And It Doesn’t End Well

Unfortunately, Thursday night’s game was a stark reminder of just how seemingly fragile Derrick Rose has become. None said it better than ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell, who eloquently tweeted the following:

The season Friedell is speaking of is the 2012 season in which Derrick consistently battled through injuries to his foot, leg, and back and ultimately resulted in him tearing his ACL during the playoffs. No decent human being would want to see Rose suffer another devastating knee injury, but the thought is always in everyone’s mind.

So while you may be demanding that Rose to play in November even if he is only 75, 80, or 90 percent healthy, the thoughts of Nick Friedell need to be firmly considered in your reasoning.

At this point, the question of “What’s the point?” needs to be asked. What’s the point of Rose playing in November on two sprained ankles? What’s the point of a guy who’s had two major knee injuries in the past two-plus years going at it when he’s not at full strength? Sure, you might win five meaningless games and the Bulls might be 8-1 rather than 7-3 right now. But what’s that going to matter if Rose isn’t healthy come playoff time?

100 Percent or Nothing

Yes, Rose needs to play. There is no doubting that. After being away from NBA basketball as long as he has, there is no reason to think otherwise. But the overall health of Rose also needs to be considered. Like Friedell hinted at, the possible reason why Rose tore his ACL in 2012 was due to the multiple injuries he incurred during that season. Rather than giving them a chance to fully heal, he decided to battle and play through them, ultimately leading to more injuries. If he wants to stay healthy this year, that can’t happen again.

If you are frustrated at the fact Rose is sitting out games right now, I understand. I really do. But I refuse to believe he desperately needs to play this early in the year if he has a nagging ankle injury. That conversation can come post-All-Star break. For now, I want to see a Derrick Rose who is fully healthy, someone who isn’t hobbled by even the slightest ankle sprain. I commend Derrick for taking himself out of the game versus the Raptors, he realized that the future chance of winning a title is more important that one game in the middle of November. Now, hopefully Chicago does as well.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mdlugie and listen to him on “The Roundtable” Thursdays from 6-7 pm