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Why Bulls, Derrick Rose shouldn’t delay the return until next season

Derrick Rose  | Sun-Times Medifile

Derrick Rose | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: December 11, 2012 1:49PM



Watching Adrian Peterson run around and over Bears defenders in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings will hopefully give Bulls fans perspective.

If the Vikings had approached their star running back’s recovery from major knee surgery the same way many believe the Bulls should handle Rose’s return from a torn ACL, the Bears would likely be one step closer to securing a playoff berth today.

Growing sentiment demands the Bulls shelve Rose for the entirety of this season regardless of how his rehabilitation is progressing. It is viewed as the safe choice, the way to protect the hard-charging point guard from himself and from coach Tom Thibodeau’s win-at-all-cost style.

That would be playing it safe, all right, but it would also retard Rose’s rehabilitation and hinder the Bulls ability to compete for a playoff spot next season as well.

Returning to practice and then logging limited minutes in actual games are important parts of the rehabilitation process. If that’s not accomplished now it must be later, which means if Rose doesn’t play this season he will not be 100 percent heading into next season, which should be the overriding goal.

This isn’t about Rose coming back so Bulls have a chance to lock up the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs instead of the seventh. Everybody agrees. This season is a wash. But Rose blowing his ACL in Game 1 of the Bulls first-round playoff series against the 76ers shouldn’t prevent the Bulls from being at their best next season, too.

Peterson returned for the season opener and is now building a convincing case as the league’s MVP, proving there are few limits on what great athletes can accomplish. Despite Peterson’s example, many propose the Bulls extend Rose’s rehab into next season as well.

Recovering from an ACL injury varies from athlete to athlete. When Rose is confident running in a straight line it will be time to plant his feet and cut. When he has mastered that the time will be right to expose him to light contact in practice. His practice sessions will need to become more intense when he’s comfortable in that setting. Finally, the time will come for him to participate in a game. Eventually, his minutes should be increased incrementally.

There are emotional and psychological hurdles that must be overcome, as well. He will need to endure collisions and hard fouls so he knows he can. Those are crucial steps in the recovery process and there’s no reason to put them off for the sake of safety when they can be safely accomplished this season.

Rose won’t be completely recovered until he’s not even thinking about his knee. If he’s not playing, he’ll have nothing to do BUT think about it.

Just because this is a lost season for the Bulls doesn’t mean it doesn’t have significant meaning for Rose, which is why the best-case scenario for the former MVP has his minutes slowing increasing until he can play 30-plus by the end of the season. It includes hard drives to the rim and hard crashes to the floor. As stomach turning as it might be to watch, a kneecap-to-kneecap collision that has Rose reaching for his knee before realizing he’s OK would also be beneficial.

He needs to endure all that so he knows he’s back to being the player he was before the injury. If that can be accomplished this season, giving him an entire offseason to train for 2013-14, it will raise the bar on what Rose and the team can accomplish when training camp opens.

Nobody is suggesting the Bulls and/or Rose rush his rehabilitation. But it’s just as illogical to decelerate it because of irrational fears. This season is about Rose’s recovery, which means for it to be successful he must fully recover THIS SEASON.

He can’t do that without eventually playing significant minutes in games.



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