Rose finally returns from injury after sitting out season

After all of the hype, all of the Adidas TV commercials, and even his own documentary, Derrick Rose has finally made his return to the hardwood. It is a return, though, that has taken longer than most had anticipated.

Rose, a former NBA MVP and the star point guard of the Chicago Bulls, tore the ACL in his left knee during the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The initial estimate for recovery was 8-12 months, positioning Rose for a return to action as early as February, and at the very least before April’s playoffs. But while he was cleared by doctors in early March, Rose did not suit up.

Citing confidence issues about handling double-teams and dunking off of his surgically repaired knee, Rose could not overcome the mental hurdle of his injury and opted to sit out the remainder of the season and the playoffs.

His decision disgruntled much of the Chicago fan base, as Rose created falsehope by never ruling himself out last season. He would sit on the bench in a suit and watch as his Bulls were eliminated by eventual champion Miami in the second round of the playoffs, a team that has captured two NBA titles since his injury in April of 2012.

Rose continued his rehab and remained cautious, as he was scapegoated by fans and labeled as mentally weak by the media. However, the caution has ultimately paid off for Rose, who has returned to form after enduring two injury plagued seasons.

Averaging 20.7 points per game through seven preseason games this month, Rose has been electric. Crossing over defenders, weaving through traffic with blistering pace and finishing explosively around the basket, Rose has silenced the critics. He has also improved his three-point shot and added five inches to his vertical leap, prompting some analysts to predict this could be his best season yet.

While some professional athletes such as Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III have rushed back from injury and look like a shell of themselves, Rose is reaping the rewards from taming his competitive fire and remaining patient. It is a strategy he has personally endorsed for Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who is currently rehabilitating a torn meniscus.

Westbrook, like Rose, saw his team’s playoff chances fall by the wayside when he injured his knee in April. Rose hopes that Westbrook will use this as motivation to take his time, so that he can come back stronger than ever and lead the Thunder back into championship contention.

As for Rose’s team, the Bulls recently improved to 8-0 this preseason and appear ready to challenge the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. With the emergence of third year guard Jimmy Butler, Chicago looks to have found the missing link in their backcourt as they try to prevent an overdependence on Rose.

Keeping Rose healthy and limiting his minutes in certain situations will be critical to the Bulls’ success this season, as they are 32-7 over the last two years when Rose plays as opposed to 63-46 when he does not.