By David Schuster-
(CBS) The back is a tricky thing. Tricky for weekend athletes and just as tricky (if not more so) for professionals. With that in mind why in the world was Derrick Rose allowed to play once he complained to team officials on this recent nine-game road trip?
No one is 100 percent sure when Rose’s back started to spasm. But it became painful (literally) to see in the game at Milwaukee that Rose was very much hobbled by the injury. The Bulls point guard has already dealt with elbow and toe issues and he has also confided that he has battled tendonitis in both knees for the last two years. It’s more than possible that he exasperated his back situation by fighting off the other injuries.
But the question (again) at hand is why was he allowed to play once the back became a problem? Coach Tom Thibodeau has constantly stated that if a player says he can play he will. But there are times when a coach has to take control and say no. It’s called looking at the big picture. And the big picture is winning an NBA title, not winning next to meaningless games in January and February. This philosophy would hold true in any season but even more so in this ridiculously truncated season this year.
In case you hadn’t noticed (and it would be almost impossible to do so), players are dropping like flies all around the league. The reason is fairly simple. The greed of the owners to cram 66 games into 123 days was maniacal and dangerous. You can’t find one team that hasn’t lost players to injuries and we’re not talking just the fringe players either. The cream of the crop has been shackled with injuries and Rose is among them.
So with the above in mind, winning the battles does not equate to winning the war. The goal should be to be as healthy as possible when the postseason comes along and (hopefully) have all hands on deck.
Thibodeau trotted out Rose to play 22 minutes against a New Orleans team that you, me and three of our friends could have possibly beaten. The Bulls didn’t need Rose in that game but play he did and it was hard to watch a gifted athlete like him painfully drag his body around the court. And don’t think for a second that those 22 minutes didn’t further set him back because they did. He hasn’t played since and no one is sure when he’ll play again.
This is where a coach needed to take a step back and think logically (again) about the big picture. And simply put, the big picture says that without Rose the Bulls won’t win anything this season.
Thibodeau has proven to be a great X’s and O’s coach, a great motivator and a tireless worker but he’s not flawless and this is one area he has to improve on. There is no need to play your starters when the lead is 20 with four minutes to go in a game. There is also no need to play your franchise player against teams that would have a hard time competing in the YMCA league.
And if the Bulls coach hasn’t gotten the point on this yet, I’ll bet his bosses will make it abundantly clear. Derrick Rose is the franchise and let’s not gamble with his health. That is the law to follow and I’ll bet that mantra is being delivered behind closed doors.