By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) I suppose you can blame Tom Thibodeau (for having Derrick Rose on the court in the waning moments of Game 1). I suppose you can blame David Stern (for jamming 66 games in a truncated four-month season). I suppose you can blame Adidas for its shoe design (although that’s pretty ridiculous).
And I suppose you can even blame Derrick Rose himself for putting his foot on the accelerator against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday when he just as easily could have been tapping the brakes.
Yes, I suppose you can throw blame at any one – or all – of them. But, really, I don’t see any good reason to accuse the Chicago Bulls coach, the NBA commissioner, the shoe company that sponsors Rose or the injured Bulls star for the torn anterior cruciate ligament that Rose suffered on Saturday, (almost certainly) shredding Chicago’s championship hopes and dreams this year.
While I’m not a doctor – and didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night – I’m of the school of thought that if Rose’s ACL was going to blow out, then it was going to blow out.
There wasn’t a whole lot that anyone could do about it.
The injury just happened to occur in the final 1:14 of Game 1 of the NBA playoffs, but it just as easily could have come during the first 1:14 of Game 2 … Or Game 3 … Or Game 7.
Now, I understand the desire for fans (and some media) to lay the blame for Rose’s heartbreaking injury somewhere. It’s a perfectly natural reaction. Something bad happened, so somebody should be held at fault – and, even more importantly, somebody should serve as a focal point for everyone’s frustrations.
If Rose had been undercut during the final 1:14 of Saturday’s win over the Sixers, or if he had been involved in some kind of collision with another player or teammate that caused his injury, I could see a legitimate reason to blame Thibodeau for having him on the court.
But that just wasn’t what happened. Rose wasn’t hurt in a freak play. He wasn’t injured in some sort of ugly incident (this wasn’t Willis McGahee getting his knee blown up from a hit while playing for the University of Miami.) Rather, Rose was hurt making a simple basketball play during which he wasn’t even touched by anyone else.
The jump stop that caused Rose’s injury is one that he’s made thousands of times before. And it’s one that he’ll make thousands of times again (he’ll be back). Like so many other basketball players before him, I suspect this was simply his time to suffer a torn ACL.
It stinks, big-time. But it also happens.
Attempting to debunk the theory that Stern’s shortened NBA season was at the root of Rose’s injury, Dr. David Altchek from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said on Sunday: “There is no evidence that wear and tear, or that kind of issue, playing too much, really has any correlation with ACL injuries in any sport that we’ve ever studied.”
Attempting to debunk the theory that Adidas’ high-tops caused the injury, Deadspin reported on Monday that Tim McGuine, a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told the Lower Extremity Review that his ongoing study has seen no difference in the incidence of knee injuries between players who wore ankle braces (in other words, high-tops taken to the extreme) and those who didn’t.
And, well, for anyone who’d like to blame Rose for playing too hard on Saturday, well, I’d suggest stopping and thinking for a moment about exactly what it is that you’re blaming him for.
The fact is, the ACL injury happened. And for a guy that has the quickest first step of any basketball player that I’ve ever seen, I suspect that it was simply bound to.
When it comes to point guards’ ACLs and pitchers’ elbow ligaments, modern medicine is pretty darn remarkable these days. I’m confident that in due time Derrick Rose will be back playing basketball games again at a very high level.
But there’s no reason to play the blame game in the interim.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.