HANG TIME, Texas — Lace up the adidas. Cue the music. Put the Heat, Pacers and Knicks on high alert.
It looks like The Return of Derrick Rose is getting ready to jump from very cool TV commercial to red hot reality.
According to Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago, Rose’s doctor has given him clearance to return to the Bulls’ lineup. Of course, like most of us, he’ll be using the “left-foot dunk test” to make his final decision.
Rose, who had surgery to repair a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on May 12, has been videotaped dunking off each foot, but more casually than he would during a game. A source said that although he has been practicing and scrimmaging hard, he told the Bulls that until he feels “in his mind” he can confidently dunk off his left foot in a game situation, he is not 100 percent mentally ready to return to competition.
The team is not pressuring Rose, the source said, but the Bulls are confident he will return this season and are still hoping for a mid-March return, which would mark 10 months after his surgery. The Bulls play at Golden State on March 15.
The source said the team has been assured by Rose’s doctor that there is no more chance of the former MVP getting injured upon his return than anyone else and that the doctor told the Bulls that physically “he can play now.” Rose is now dealing with the psychological side of trusting his body.”
Since Rose collapsed in a heap at the end of Game 1 of last year’s playoffs, it has always been most prudent for the Bulls to take the long view for the benefit of their MVP, All-Star guard’s career, not to mention the five-year, $94-million investment that was made with his 2011 contract extension. But over the past month, there have been dramatic swings in the situation as word got out that Rose was making solid progress.
Even as Rose has been taking part in 5-on-5 scrimmages with his teammates over the past three weeks, he also raised the possibility of not returning at all this season when he last spoke with reporters on Feb. 13. Then his brother Reggie told ESPNChicago that the team’s failure to improve the roster would be a “big factor” in Rose’s return. Derrick Rose said he did not share his brother’s sentiments.
Though the Bulls are currently in sixth place in the playoff race, a return by a fully recovered Rose changes the entire landscape of the Eastern Conference, vaulting them clearly into that second tier of contenders with the Pacers and Knicks and could even make LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the defending champion Heat sit up and take notice.
Once he gets that left-footed dunk down comfortably, it’s time for the next step. The Return of Derrick Rose isn’t the end of the road, just the beginning of a new story.