By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Let’s just assume Derrick Rose recovers sufficiently to lead the Bulls on another deep playoff run.
He shakes off the latest ankle “tweak,” the torn groin muscle, the sprained toe on the other foot, and the previous bout with back spasms to play forty minutes in each of the games, say 18 of them through the conference finals. If they reach the finals, add another six or seven.
That could take us up to June 26th. After a week off, Rose is planning to fly to Las Vegas to begin an intense schedule of training and exhibitions with USA Basketball, leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in England.
Three hour daily practices begin July 6th and run through the 25th, with the team finishing a four-city, five-exhibition world tour in Barcelona. The round-robin pool games begin on the 29th, with the gold-medal final August 12th.
The Bulls officially open training camp about seven weeks after Rose gets home, and dedicated, veteran players traditionally ramp up their individual workouts well before then.
Anybody else have a problem with this?
Rose’s largely-lost season of treatments and walking boots is already spurring us to ask some difficult, sobering questions. Is there something endemic to his game that makes him susceptible to injury? Is this year just a dumb-luck anomaly? Can he or should he alter the way he plays to minimize risk?
Explosiveness is wonderful, but also dangerous, especially for an aggressive, fearless guard. It is fair to begin to wonder about the big-picture future of the Bulls when we consider how often Rose seems to have something physically amiss.
He has already logged 12,500 minutes (playoffs included) in his young career. Players only get so many before their games begin to deteriorate, and smaller guys decline more rapidly than those closer to the basket both by height and position.
I understand that players play, and we can’t live in a state of constant worry, but general erosion is just half of it. Rose has been lucky to avoid greater trauma from his various flights and hard landings, cat-quick jump-stops and high-speed collisions. No torn knee ligaments or cartilage, no broken wrists or dislocated elbows. The last thing the Bulls want is for something like that to occur when he steps funny in an exhibition game against the Dominican Republic or gets knocked out of the air by a flailing, giant Spaniard with patriotic pride and something to prove.
Much of this case can apply to others like Luol Deng, who also is readying for the Olympic grind despite needing his left wrist repaired. I just don’t care as much about him, nor cringe or hold my breath as often when I watch him play, waiting for him to get up from the floor.
So I’m a bad American. Fine.
If you still need international hoops success to define your flag-wrapped self-image, that’s your problem. The NBA itself is now a mélange of worldwide stars, open to anyone from anywhere. There’s nothing special or exotic about the same guys in different uniforms, alongside lesser players from their respective home countries not good enough for the league.
Rose will play. He has to fulfill obligations to his primary employer, and I don’t mean the Bulls. Adidas didn’t just pay him a reported $260 million over 14 years for him to skip this stage, not with billboards of him around the world in places where the Olympics still seem to matter.
I’m sure I’m not the only Bulls observer, though, that would strongly prefer he didn’t. It’s pure selfishness, wanting whatever remaining time at the peak of his powers to be spent in pursuit of an NBA title.
We hear the Star-Spangled Banner before every game. I can live without hearing it again at a medal ceremony.
London calling. Don’t answer.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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