Derrick Rose: A long and winding road to glory
A close look at the struggles of Derrick Rose in his injury-plagued career.
Imagine this. It's always been your dream to play in the NBA. You worked your entire life to get there, racking up the awards and accolades throughout your high school days. Going into college you were highly sought after, and with the choice being yours, you decide to play for the Memphis Tigers keeping in mind that they have a strong history of putting players in a good position to make it in the NBA.
After one season of college basketball, you're selected number one in the 2008 NBA draft by none other than the Chicago Bulls, a franchise that proudly boasts their history of winning championships under the leadership of Michael Jordan. You win the Rookie of the Year award.
In just your third season you become the youngest ever league MVP at the age of 22, while leading your team to the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and the best record in the league (62-20). Unfortunately that elusive NBA titles gets away from you as you get eliminated by a star-studded Miami Heat led by Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the Eastern Conference Finals.
During the off-season you work to come back even better than before, but you're able to only play 39 out of the long 2011-2012 82 game season due to various small injuries. Your team still makes the playoffs and it's again your time to lead them in a competitive post season.
It's the first game of the first round and your team has seemingly locked in a win with a 12 point lead and 1:22 left in the game, then the worst thing imaginable for an athlete happens. You go down with a knee injury and later scans show that you tore your ACL in your left knee. This is the story of Derrick Rose.
Troubled by injuries galore
After successfully undergoing surgery on his torn ACL, Derrick Rose did not return for the 2012-2013 season. He was able to join the team in practices in January 2013 and was cleared by doctors to play in March.
Despite his recovery and the Chicago Bulls making the playoffs without their all-star point guard, Rose did not make an appearance in a single game of the post-season and the Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs once again by Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals who would go on to win another championship.
At the start of the 2013-2014 preseason, not only was the city of Chicago looking forward to Rose's return to the court, but every NBA fan was eagerly waiting to see exactly what type of a condition his body was in. After putting up good numbers during the preseason, Rose claimed that he had returned even more athletic than before.
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Rose also declared that he was more explosive than before and could jump several inches higher. During the first several games of the regular season, Rose struggled to get himself back to his MVP level of play despite his best efforts.
Less than a month into the season on November 22nd, he injured his right knee while playing against the Portland Trailblazers. It was later announced that he had torn his meniscus and needed surgery. Not long after this the Bulls announced that he would be out for the remainder of the season yet again.
Once again Rose found himself in the same position at the start of the 2014-2015 season. He returned to play the regular season with his team but was allowed to only play restricted minutes to keep his injury situation on the safer side.
However, in January, Rose was put back on the injured list with a right knee injury and in February it was determined that he needed yet another surgery on his meniscus which was partially torn at this point. He was able to return to action towards the end of the regular season and the Bulls found themselves back in the playoff picture again.
In the first round against the Bucks, Rose showed flashes of his old MVP self and led the Bulls to the conference semifinals. In the semifinals against the Cavaliers, Rose led them to a 2-1 game advantage but ultimately ended up losing the series in 6 games.
In the following season, Rose would play 66 out of the 82 game season and the Bulls ranked 9th in the East, falling just one spot short of making the playoffs. Though he did not play the entire season, Rose showed a lot of promise and that he still has the ability to play at a high level after putting up very good numbers that season.
Despite this, the bulls eventually decided to trade Derrick Rose to the Knicks during the off season. During the 2016-2017 season, Rose put up average numbers with the occasional breakout performance that reminded fans of what he used to be capable of on a nightly basis.
Rose became a free agent at the end of the season which meant that he would be put on the market for those who were interested. It is during this off season that Rose is put closer to winning a championship than ever before.
Tryst with the Cavaliers
Over the last several years, the Eastern Conference only had one team which could challenge the Golden State Warriors and that is the Cleveland Cavaliers. After the departure of Kyrie Irving and the acquisition of Isaiah Thomas, the Cavaliers needed to deepen their bench in order to ensure that there would not be a drop-off when their second unit is in the game. Who better to add to this team than a former MVP searching for his first NBA Title.
With Isaiah Thomas out with an injury, Rose was given a spot on the starting five and he was playing well in his given situation. Being on a team that had Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love, there wasn't pressure on Rose to have to put up MVP numbers.
Towards the end of October however, Rose suffered a minor ankle injury and was out of the rotation for four games. He returned on the 29th for five more games, then was put out of the rotation again due to his ankle injury.
Even though Rose had success over the past several years, his frustrations with his injuries kept growing and on November 24th, Rose left the team and was considering retirement. We can only imagine what Rose was going through during this time and how hard it must have been for him.
During this time, the team did its best to stay positive and kept themselves in contact with Rose. This proved to pay off as in the early days of December, Rose expressed his desire to rejoin the team and he did on the 4th of December. Though he is still out of the rotation with his injured ankle, he took time to apologize to his teammates for his sudden leave and made it clear that he wanted to play again.
Rose has experienced many ups and downs, both on and off the court, throughout his career so far, and it can get understandably tough and frustrating for him as he seems to constantly be dealing with injuries. However, Rose is now on a team that gives him a legitimate chance to win a NBA Championship.
Should that day come, whether you are a fan of Derrick Rose or not, you cannot help but recognize the hard work that he put in to get to this point in his life. If the Cavaliers are able to make it to the finals again and overcome the Golden State Warriors, then we can be sure that it would be one the best days, if not the best day, of Derrick Rose's life.