Missing Rose, Or What Rose Is Missing?

MIAMI – So much of this NBA season for the Chicago Bulls, especially in these playoffs, has been about missing Derrick Rose.

Not anymore. At this point, it’s all about what Derrick Rose is missing.

The script officially flipped Saturday night when the Bulls pulled off their stunning, wholly unexpected Game 7 upset of the Brooklyn Nets. Rose was there but he was there in a suit again, no more a part of what really mattered in the arena than the guy wielding the T-shirt cannon.

Wait, that’s not quite right – Rose did play a role in making it remarkable with his very uninvolvement. The Bulls did not have their leader and their superstar, again,  in circumstances that should have doomed them – and then they went about their business as they have all season. Or in Joakim Noah‘s case, with some frenzied, divine, determined intervention.

No Derrick? No problem. No problem too great, anyway.

A too-familiar sight: Chicago's Derrick Rose on the bench. (by Gary Dineen/NBAE)

A too-familiar sight: Chicago’s Derrick Rose cheering, not playing. (by Gary Dineen/NBAE)

Rose was in a suit and Kirk Hinrich was in a suit and Luol Deng was back home in Chicago, and still the Bulls beat the offensively gifted and favored Nets to advance to the playoffs’ second round. It was merely the latest in a season of highlight nights and indelible memories missed by Rose during his recovery from knee surgery last May.

He missed the victory in Miami in January in Chicago’s first meeting with the defending champions and assorted undermanned victories before and since. He missed the Bulls’ run of three straight overtime games in four nights, two on the road, two of which went their way. He missed the game at United Center in late March when the Heat, after stomping pretty much the rest of the league, had their winning streak stopped at 27 games (second-longest in NBA history) by a team, wow, still missing its star.

Because Rose and the team’s front office committed to a cautious approach to his rehab and return – the Bulls and their medical staff overseeing but ultimately empowering Rose and his advisers to make the decisions – the laconic icon hasn’t been a part of anything all season. Even as his absence has defined and made this season special for those who have been a part of it.

Now, Rose is missing this, at least four games and as many as seven against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest. It could have been a classic. Remember when Rose took his stand about not working his cell phone in the offseason and recruiting help by courting his competition, it came across as a direct response to the AAU buddy-ball brainstorming of James, Wade and Chris Bosh in the summer of 2010. Neither the Heat nor Rose was fully formed when the two sides met for the first time in the postseason in 2011, but the storyline now, with Rose’s very MVP-ness that year being questioned again, would have been must-see: Some guys want to play with the best, other guys want to beat the best.

The storyline, as is, is pretty compelling. It’s underdogs and Cinderella and, frankly, it’s sad. Because Rose is missing out on the full experience of what his Bulls teammates are. Guys like Rose never fully know what it feels like to be overlooked and underrated because, no matter how humble and unassuming they might be (and that’s no act with Rose), they are their teammates’ swagger. Stars like Rose don’t know what it’s like to have their chances dismissed. Stars like Rose look into fans’, friends’ and family eyes and see hope twinkling.

Maybe one time in the pros, before the end of Rose’s rookie year in 2009, he might seen doubt in people’s eyes. But then he had his coming-out party as a future NBA star, the seventh-seeded Bulls pushing the mighty Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round. Since then, Rose has been the man; when he plays and, without interruption for more than a year now, when he doesn’t.

In the end, Rose is missing a lot. Early in the Brooklyn series, Bulls forward Taj Gibson talked about Rose’s view and words from the bench. “He was just eager,” Gibson said. “He was just saying like, he can’t wait to get back, he can’t wait to play. And just critiquing the game, talking about what we needed to do, what kind of plays. He knew a lot of the sets coming out so he would just scream out plays. He was just hyped talking about good stuff.”

As frustrating as it is for Bulls and NBA fans to wonder what this Eastern Conference semifinal series might be like with Rose involved, as puzzled as they all are by his erring on the side of caution or his timidity or his whatever it is, they can assume that Rose is frustrated too. Or should be.

So don’t be disappointed by Derrick Rose. Be disappointed for him.


  1. karmazz11 says:

    rose, muhfoger, if i were your teammate man, i would slap your face every days. do you plan to make a come back when your team will be 3-1 in finals ? pfff
    PLAY, you are not injured any more. fug that “psycho” injury. so unprofessional that’s crazy.
    Man he is medically clear to play, and thats a shame.
    you are lucky with the bulls front office man, very lucky. you are not paid to sit and cry about NOTHING.
    damn millionaires

  2. Deepak M says:

    Great read Mr. Aschburner.

    I believe Rose should have been more of a leader, and stood up and helped his ailing team upon being declared fit to play.
    Maybe his decision to rest the remaining part of the season itself made it pretty clear to the rest of the team about what their chances were this season. And they’ve reacted positively. MAN i love underdogs.

  3. Remember that Michael Jordan video in the 90’s “Jordan’s Playground”. There was a quote that he said, and I never forgot it.

    “.. Don’t be afraid, go find out..”!!!!!!!!

  4. Angelica says:

    This article is so true. People are angry/baffled because of what Rose is a apparently doing to them, but I’m fascinated because of what Rose is willingly doing to himself at this point. I can understand the cons of coming back – he might disrupt chemistry, he might struggle initially, he technically hasn’t been there all season so how fair is it for him to swoop in now and take credit for wins when he wasn’t there early on? And yet at the same time wouldn’t any star want to get out there to help his team and by god compete against one of the best teams in the league if not the best, the Miami Heat? Doesn’t he want to get in there and prove to himself and everyone that he has what it takes to come back with a vengeance and push his team all the way? Doesn’t he want to participate? At this point, with the Bulls up 1-0 going into Chicago… I mean, this could be epic. Shouldn’t he be itching to be a part of history? Or maybe that’s the problem. Maybe he’s shying away from the spotlight because he doesn’t think he can deliver. He might have lost confidence in himself. Who knows!

  5. Bespoken says:

    What a game! Bulls take game 1!GO underdogs!

  6. cailles says:

    he should be fined by the nba for refusing to play while being cleared by medical doctors. the nba should have a policy on medically cleared athlete that refused to play.

  7. Michael B. says:

    the matter here is that the bulls will try to be as physical as possible, i expect injuries here, also bulls MUST be cool if miami starts going on CHAOS DEFENSE, and it is a important factor because is a moral crasher and I saw this against milwaukee, but i still think bulls should hang rose for an emergency if they lose robinson, the factor for bulls will be noah and boozer, while miami should rely on lebron once again, unless bosh want to step up in this series, the x factor here is nate for bulls and birdman for miami. the way I see the series, it will go again 4 miami – chicago 1, or 2, if rose steps up they might be some challenge for miami. game on baby!!!

  8. Johnny D. says:

    I think Rose has had enough time to recover from his injury. I agree with some previous comments; If he’s a weak bone, it won’t be long before he is on the injured list again, but if it was an isolated injury, it will never happen again. Go ahead Rose, play, time has nothing to do with it anymore.

  9. theresa says:

    Feel sad for Rose? Who is collecting a million dollar paycheck, for doing NOTHING all year for the team, for hanging out with his son and living the life while not even working for it- after being medically cleared months ago? I think he is just being a coward, afraid he can’t live up to his own hype, and should have been back in the game by now, if even only for short bursts. The fans are seriously disappointed and kinda angry at him, just in case he does not realize this yet.

  10. Greg says:

    Rose might just be the healthiest guy physically on the roster right now……that alone should be enough to make him play. It’s selfish of him to want to come back “better than before”. Rose suffered a traumatic injury that required surgery, his mindset will never be like it once was so it’s time to ADAPT AND OVERCOME!!!!! I am a die-hard Bulls fan and have supported Rose this whole time, but my “support contract” has been set this whole time to game 3 vs. Miami. If he doesn’t play by game 3, he is a coward and needs to be traded out of Chicago……basically, if he can’t man-up by that time (HE IS 100% PHYSICALLY CLEARED), then he will never fully recover mentally and will have a “washed-up” career. There’s just no excuse anymore. Rose cannot get better until he faces an actual opponent in an actual game!

    Love ya Rose, Please come back!

  11. Gus says:

    No rose , no chance for the nab championships team . go heat

  12. Zion says:

    Rose is a punk they should get rid of him if he acts like this next year and so on rose needs to stop being a baby and play instead of siting on the bench like a back up

  13. max says:

    ,DR. says he is able to play, goes through full practice for two months, YET does no agree to come back at this most important time to help his team? Cannot deal with PAIN. Afraid of being hurt again. May Never come back??? It is MENTAL. NEEDS DRS’ HELP TO GET OVER AFRAID OF BEING REINJURIED. CANNOT DEAL WITH PAIN. Look at the number of players with that injury— back, and those players with many injuries back? Rose needs a Shrink for HELP!
    SCARED OF GETTING HURT AGAIN. This may be his only contract???
    Rough and Tough game, maybe he just cannot deal with that kind of pain???The NBA BB is a very rough game. Maybe Rose cannot help having FEAR of competing in the NBA arena??

  14. LOL says:

    efrain you make me laugh its gonna be a sweep bulls to hurt

  15. holyspectator says:

    i dont seem to understand, miami beat bulls when they were way better than they are now (they had a fully healthy rose) won the series 4-1…and miami got much better and deeper now….so not sure why people think chicago will beat miami? maybe win a game…maybe…but they are not winning the series…i know your supporting your team and all, but lets be real here…this bulls team is not gonna win at all.

  16. The Dark Knight says:

    I said this to a friend and I’ll say it on here. I’m a Chicagoan and I lost respect for the part of Rose that made him a hero, but not the part that made him a determined player. The part that makes someone a hero in the eyes of humanity, however, is nonexistent in pretty much everyone unless you are Mother Teresa or Jesus. The truth is a lot of people expected Rose to be a deity in terms of what he represented for Chicago basketball. These people, including me, are only losing respect where no respect was due in the first place. Rose is not a hero and no one should have expected him to be one. The frustration a lot of people feel with him now is due to their own unrealistic expectations and worship. This downsizing of Rose’s reputation this season is a good thing for him, if anything. We can see now that he is nothing more than human, with a will and a potential to be the best. I can’t help but to feel frustrated but at least I understand where it’s coming from. I’ll always be a fan.

  17. NBALogics says:

    D-Rose needs to gear up plain and simple for this series back in 2011 they blew us out in the 1st game and we went on to win the series with DRose playing. With this depleted roster now? They don’t got a chance especially without DRose.

  18. A Campos says:

    Bulls have done it B4 they finsih the Heat wining strek

  19. Efrain says:

    Steve If you don’t have nothing good to talk about then shut up. We, the Bulls fans support DRose on his desisions. We don’t want a Grant Hill nor Greg Oden situation here. Whenever he feels capable, mentally and fisicaly, he’ll come back. Bigger, stronger, faster!

    Chicago can win against Miami with or without Rose.

    • W/E says:

      u got it all wrong, the only way for Rose or any other player not to risk injury is not to play in the NBA at all, D.Rose is ready to play months now, guys like Greg Oden Grant Hill or Brandon Roy have fragile bodies,Grant Hill had to change his game,play less physicall stop penetrating in traffic,basically becoming a role player to continue his career, it doesnt matter how much time u give them when they come back the risk for injury is the same, same for D.Rose, if he comes back next year or 2015 or whenever, the risk of injury will be the same, extremely high if he keeps playing like he used to before injury.

  20. Sajid says:

    Great article and very true.

  21. Don't give a fuk says:

    Rose gear the F up and Play damn it….

    I tore My ACL twice and i know what your going through but your good now and especially with the treatment pro athletes get your good to go!

    I’m a heat fan but I love watching the bulls and Derrick they need you and your healthy…

    DO IT!

  22. nanrad says:

    Can I be both? I’ll go more for be disappointed for him because this season would have really been a learning experience for him in his mentality, confidence, maturity, and expectations.

  23. Maraz says:

    Incredibly well written.

  24. either way it’s still a loss…imagine how tough the bulls could be with Derrick Rose on the line-up…just shows how good the coaching is on this team

    • Schemer21 says:

      The Bulls are rocking right now. Do i think they’ll win the series? Doubtful. I think they have at least another win in them though.
      I’m a big D Rose fan but i don’t want to see him play in these playoffs. Why? Coz everyone wrote the bulls off before the playoffs, no Rose, no hope. These guys are playing with a chip on their shoulder because of that. They’re playing hard and playing for each other. It’s great to watch. D Rose playing would change the chemistry completely and if anything would probably hurt their chances of winning.

  25. Bstarr says:

    Go BULLS tonight! No Rose no problem!