You couldn’t help Bulls fans for feeling like they were stuck inside an adidas TV commercial.
The World Stopped. Again.
With under four minutes left in the third quarter Friday night in Portland, Derrick Rose made a back cut, landed awkwardly on his right leg and needed assistance off the court. Again.
Suddenly another Bulls season is in freeze-frame and just like that so many of the Chicago unfaithful ready to jump ship.
Within hours, even minutes, of Rose crumbling to the floor, there were criticisms of the former MVP being “soft” and “weak” filling up online fan sites. There were those who chastised Bulls management for not having traded Rose away already and others who said it was time to blow up the entire roster and start all over again.
Can we take a deep breath and at least get the results of the MRI that will be performed On Rose’s right knee today in Los Angeles before jumping off the Willis Tower?
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was understandably worried.
“He has pain and it felt like he couldn’t push off his right knee,” Thibodeau said. “I’m concerned. Any time anyone goes down, you’re concerned. But I don’t want to speculate until we get more information.”
While no immediate word came regarding its severity, Rose couldn’t put weight on the leg as training staff personnel escorted him to the locker room after Marquis Teague replaced him. Rose, who didn’t address reporters afterward, also used crutches to hobble in and out of the shower after the game.
“He’s disappointed he couldn’t finish the game,” Thibodeau said. “Derrick’s a hard guy to read. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion. But we’re concerned.
“Again, I don’t want to speculate on what it is and what it might be, other than my concern for him. I know how much work he has put into his rehab and the type of person and player he is. So I feel for him because of all the things that he does and what they mean to our team.”
The situation is eerily similar to when Rose was injured late in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs, a shredded left ACL that kept him on the sidelines for 18 months and forced him to miss all of last season.
Back then there was the initial shock, followed by the diligent rehab work by the All-Star point guard and the hopeful message delivered by the emotional, rousing adidas commercial that showed Rose making a triumphant return to the United Center court and bringing an entire city back to life.
That was all before Rose chose the more cautious — and more prudent — route of sitting out the entire 2012-13 season and felt the scorn from those who challenged his courage and commitment to the team.
While still feeling his way along in his comeback, Rose had already tied his season high in the third quarter Friday night with 20 points and seven trips to the free-throw line when suddenly he went down again.
Of course, the Bulls had proved themselves capable of surviving last season without their leader, finishing 45-37. But everyone knows they are no real threat to challenge Miami and Indiana for Eastern Conference supremacy without Rose.
There may have been a glimmer of good news from the Bulls locker room late Friday night, says Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
“He (Rose) didn’t seem nervous,’’ teammate Taj Gibson said. “Of course he’s a competitor, he was more focused on us trying to pull that win out.
“Right now, the focus is what that MRI will say. But he’s having good hopes, his head was high. He wasn’t down, feeling sorry for himself.’’
Secondly, Rose was on crutches, but was putting a bit more pressure on the leg on his way to the locker room. When he was helped off the court at the end of the third quarter, he was putting almost no pressure on the knee and noticeably wincing.
There was the matter of a 21-point lead blown to the Trail Blazers, two straight losses to open a six-game road trip and a tepid 6-5 start to the season.
But for now, everything is back in freeze-frame as the world for Rose, the Bulls and Chicago, stops. Again.