Reporting Sam Zuba
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By Sam Zuba-
(CBS) Carlos Boozer stands in front of his locker with a blank look on his face.
Three lockers to the right, Kyle Korver ices his knees, stunned at what transpired.
Across the room, Joakim Noah sits in his chair, his hands on his knees, trying to explain what just happened.
It’s minutes after the Bulls defeated the 76ers, earning a win in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs, yet no one is smiling. There are no hi-fives. No laughter. No smiles. Nothing but silence, shock and disbelief.
“This might be one of the saddest wins ever,” Boozer offers.
The sadness Boozer refers to is the stark realization that his team has lost its star – and reigning MVP of the league – for the remainder of the playoffs.
With 1:14 to play and the Bulls up by 12 points, Derrick Rose drove to the lane, looking to extend the Bulls’ lead. When he jump-stopped before taking off to the basket, something happened in his left knee.
As he jumped, Rose passed the ball before crashing to the floor, grimacing in pain as he clenched his knee with both hands. Trainers and medical personnel rushed to the court, ultimately carrying the MVP out.
The look across the UC was utter shock. Little did the fans know that when Rose crashed to the ground, so did any hopes of winning the franchise’s seventh championship.
Hours after the game, the news began to break. Rose suffered a torn ACL and his season is over.
Throughout this shortened, 66-game season, Rose fought through myriad of injuries. There was the turf toe. Then the back, foot and knee. As one injury would heal, another would pop up. Maybe it was his body’s way of telling the 23-year-old super star to slow down.
“He can’t catch a break,” Boozer said.
The locker room is silent as players deal with the harsh reality that awaits them. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. This team, from Day One, had its sights set on a championship.
Without Rose, the Bulls are seemingly done. Any hopes of rematching the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals are out the window. Still, the group tries to remain positive.
“Come on man, he’s the MVP of the NBA,” Noah said. “I know how bad he wants to be out there. Regardless of what happens, we’re a capable group. We’ve been through this throughout the year.”
Head coach Tom Thibodeau is confident he made the right decision in keeping the fragile Rose in the game with the outcome all but determined.
“That’s part of the game,” Thibodeau said. “There are going to be injuries. A guy can get hurt in practice. He can get hurt in the first five minutes of the game. He can get hurt at the end of the game. He can get hurt anytime. Then, you have to deal with it. He’s had a lot of injuries this year. It’s been unfortunate, but we do have more than enough to win with. Whatever the circumstances are, we’ll deal with it.”
Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, but today the Bulls are wishing they could live in hindsight.
Sam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com. Before earning a degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, he spent two summers covering the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago Cubs for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SamZuba and read more of his columns here.