By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Adrian Peterson ruined it for everybody.
Because of the Viking running back’s unprecedented, spectacular return from ACL/MCL surgery this season, fans’ expectations for professional rehabs have been recalibrated, no matter what they hear from doctors, or say they accept.
If AP could come back that strong and fast in eight months, the thinking goes, someone playing a far less brutal sport should be able to do the same, or at least something like that. Get back out there and entertain us.
That’s the undercurrent of every non-story story about Derrick Rose, as we watch video of him running, shooting jumpers methodically before games, and cutting gingerly around assistant coaches.
It’s what was being insinuated, too, when the Knicks’ Iman Shumpert came back to the court nine months after tearing his ACL and meniscus, and when Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio needed nine months to make it back to action after repairs to a torn ACL and LCL. Besides Peterson, here now is NBA context for comparison.
It has been nine months since Dr. Brian Cole fashioned a new ACL for Rose, still smack-dab in the middle of the time-frame given immediately after surgery: 8-12 months. Important to remember that, after Rose surprised many with his comments to USA Today.
“I don’t have a set date,” he said. “I’m not coming back until I’m 110%. Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It’s just that I’m not coming back until I’m ready.”
Asked to assess his current percentage of readiness, he replied: “Right now, probably in the high 80s. Far away. Far away.”
And you know what? That’s fine.
Some of the reaction to Rose’s innocuous honesty has ranged from grumbled frustration to cries of an Adidas-concocted marketing conspiracy. The Bulls’ unsurprising overachievement in a watered-down Eastern conference has stoked outsized visions of potential playoff glory, including Rose at the peak of his powers galvanizing this most recent band of regular-season do-gooders into champions.
My advice to those giddy dreamers: don’t watch Miami Heat games.
First of all, let’s allow for the improbable case that Rose will recover his form entirely, right away this season. Even that’s not enough to vault his team past Miami, since we have seen what the incomparable LeBron James did – and will do — to Rose in individual matchups. The Bulls are still a second real star away from title contention.
More importantly, no two knee injuries heal the same way, and no recovery is linear. It may indeed be the best course of action for Rose to listen to conservative advice from his doctors and trainers, and to listen to his own body. Nobody wins if a rushed rehabilitation brings complications and unforeseen risks – not the franchise, not Rose, not even all-powerful Adidas and the glitzy commercial serial they are filming along the way.
He is too valuable to allow low-percentage scenarios in the short term to imperil other, probably better, chances to win NBA championships after some bold, opportunistic moves to remodel a good team into something more powerful.
Rose’s knee is not that of Shumpert or Rubio, and neither is his game, which is particularly explosive, physical, contorted and angular. He plays to contact, plays through contact and plays above and around it. And nobody wants him babying anything out there, except for keeping a close eye on minutes.
Whatever it is that hurries to come back this season may not yet be Derrick Rose. That’s not what anyone wants.