On the 28th of April back in 2012, the Chicago Bulls were playing the Philadelphia 76ers in the opening game NBA Playoffs. As usual, Derrick Rose was tormenting Jrue Holiday, and the rest of the Philly defense by weaving his way through them like they weren’t even there, on his way to 23 points and nine assists.
Then in the fourth quarter, with Chicago holding a comfortable 12-point lead and under 90seconds remaining on the clock, the game all but wrapped. But Rose, inexplicably still in the game, was still in attack mode went for his usual two-footed launch of the ground, for an easy floater.
However, this time around his knees gave way and he tore his ACL.
Immediately, the point guard clutched his left knee while he hobbled over to the baseline and just like that, his (and eventually Chicago’s season) was done. In the blink of an eye, a move he had done a million times over had ended his championship hopes that year and forced him to miss the entire 2012-13 season.
Yet somehow, the Chicago Bulls struggled and persevered without their star player and managed to clinch the fifth place in the Eastern Conference to make the Playoffs. But without Rose, everyone knew they never stood a chance. They were unceremoniously sent packing in five games by the eventual champions – the Miami Heat.
Return number 1
As the Heat celebrated their second championship, Rose was still had at work, regaining his full health bit by bit and eager for the new season to get going. However, the critics came out by the truck load and questioned why he hadn’t at least tried to help his teammates after the doctors had cleared him.
After a while, the critics continued to question his heart and commitment to the team. All the while his anger continued to brew and when the new season finally tipped off, he wasn’t looking to play basketball because he loved it. He was doing it to silence his detractors.
“I think that was just a dark side for me, a dark period of time,” Rose said, reflecting on his comeback. “I felt like it was damn near like a job instead of just going out there and having fun. I wasn’t smiling, I wasn’t enjoying the game. I was trying not to mess up.”
Then on November, 22nd, just 10 games into the 2013-14 season, his knee troubles had struck yet again. This time it was meniscus tear and once again he had to sit out the rest of the year.
He had to endure the gruelling rehabilitation process once again and go through another extended period of listening to his critics take shots at him. However he had a much different outlook on things then.
“It changed with the second injury,” Rose, 25, said. “I knew that I couldn’t be mad or be in that place for a whole year again. So I really attacked my rehab and it really was fun this time. The first time it was hell. This time it was hell, too. But I was able to enjoy it a little bit more, seeing that improvement.”
Now, the much happier D Rose is on show, with more confidence than ever. And despite missing over 180 games in the past three years, he is in with a real shot of making the Team USA FIBA World Cup squad following some words encouraging words from the coaches.
Assistant coach Jim Boeheim said: “He's been the most impressive guy in the camp." Meanwhile head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been impressed with his defense.
“His movement on defense has been spectacular, said Coach K. “When we started practice, what he did defensively -- whoa. It picked everybody up. You don't play that type of defense in the NBA because you have to play 40 minutes and 100 games, but here if you play 20 minutes you can go to an extreme -- that's what he's doing.
“He's been absolutely terrific.”
Looks like Derrick Rose is back and is even better than before.