Waiting for Superman

Randy Ollie, Sports Editor

If you held your ear to the ground this past Tuesday, you probably caught the echoes of exasperation from Chicago. Once again, former NBA Rookie of the Year and 2011 MVP Derrick Rose has been injured — so severely, in fact, that he was rushed into surgery Wednesday morning to repair a left orbital fracture resulting from an elbow to the face in practice the day before.

Any Bulls fan or NBA junkie will tell you that this does not look good for the start of the season or Rose’s health for its duration — it’s a bleak prospect for such a promising player. Even more frustrating is that, with this latest ailment, Rose has now officially been injured in every region of his body. The most serious of these started in 2012 when he tore his left ACL and needed surgery, followed shortly by another season-ending knee injury in his right knee in 2013, and topped off with a 2014-2015 season in which he only played 51 out of a total 82 games. He has also had sprains in both wrists, both ankles, neck problems and a variety of back problems.

For comparison, Rose has missed more games in his last two seasons than San Antonio Spurs forward and future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan has missed in the last 18 seasons. Rose’s susceptibility to injury has gotten so bad that Bulls fans, myself included, can’t help but cringe in their seats whenever the explosive guard takes a hard foul or hits the floor a little too hard. Granted, Chicago fans are some of the best in the world, but the Rose injury dilemma has been a rollercoaster of broken dreams and disappointment for some time now. Whenever Rose has been hurt in the past you couldn’t walk more than a few blocks in Chicago without coming across a makeshift shrine dedicated to the longevity of his body.

Though Rose’s recent injury is not nearly his most severe, the fact that he hasn’t been able to make it through any of the past three seasons without surgery is troublesome at best. Granted, the Bull’s winning percentage has remained impressive over the last four years — between 60 and 70 percent without their best player. But, as with any professional sports team, the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is results. Derrick Rose has only been healthy in two postseasons during his seven-year tenure in the NBA and has only gotten as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. However, in both instances, his obstacle was not his body; rather, it was the best player in the world, LeBron James.

So while the Bulls’ success without Rose is encouraging, the reality is that he needs to stay at a healthy MVP-caliber level if the Bulls expect to shake things up this year. Because while many radical Bulls fans call for Rose to be traded or for the organization to give up on him and put their NBA Championship hopes into someone else’s hands, the fact remains that Rose is the Bulls’ best option right now. The NBA is a league dictated by its superstars, and while Rose may not always be able to play at that level due to injuries, he is still unquestionably an elite player. Most importantly, the Bulls would never get their money back if they attempted to trade Rose and the 41 million dollars left on his contract. The fact of the matter is that no team besides Chicago will likely ever take a chance on the battered point guard.

As infuriating as it is for some fans to admit, sometimes players are just unlucky. Some players will go their entire careers without getting hurt; whereas others will spend most of their careers sidelined with ailments that ultimately force them to retire early. Things can always be worse, and former NBA center Greg Oden is a great example of that. Personal feelings aside, I wish Rose a speedy recovery and a long and healthy career. Not only is he a great player for my hometown team, but he and the Bulls are also the best chance at dethroning LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers from their dominant position atop the Eastern Conference in the upcoming NBA season.