By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Does Chicago owe Derrick Rose an apology?
On Monday, in his column at bulls.com, Sam Smith posed that question. But I think I have an even more relevant one to ask about Rose:
Have you forgiven him yet?
On Friday, the Chicago Bulls will open their 2013-14 training camp. The team will be hoping to build upon last season’s surprising-but-controversial campaign during which the Bulls went further in the playoffs than most expected – but also went far longer without their franchise point guard than most expected, as well.
Derrick Rose hasn’t donned a Bulls uniform for a game since tearing his ACL on April 28, 2012. After the injury, the point guard was given a recovery timetable of 8-12 months, and on Jan. 31 started taking full contact in practice. On March 9, Rose was cleared by doctors to return to game action, but as everyone in Chicago knows, he did not, and ultimately the Bulls fell to eventual NBA champion Miami in the second round.
At the time, Rose explained about his decision to sit out that he just didn’t “feel” right yet and admitted that his reluctance to play was mental, not physical.
That distinction set much of the Bulls’ fan base against Rose, many of whom seemed willing to cut off their nose to spite the face of the franchise. Among those was one of my Twitter followers, who said that if Rose didn’t play against the Heat and that New Orleans offered guard Eric Gordon and two first-round picks for the Bulls superstar, he’d consider it.
I considered that to be nonsense. Still do. While I understood fans’ frustration, I personally was OK with Rose sitting out for all of last season. I felt that he was far too young, far too valuable and has far too bright of a future to pressure him to come back for just a handful of games, even if the doctors did say he could go. Instead, I would have preferred for the Bulls to have just officially shut Rose down to remove all the drama surrounding him and let him fully recover in peace.
But they did not, and instead his reputation went to pieces.
However, my guess is that as soon as Rose returns this year, he’ll pick them back up in short order – and that he’ll pick his rankled fans back up too. After all, I don’t think Rose was ever really Public Enemy No. 1 in Chicago last spring. It was more like he was Public Enemy Right Then.
And speaking of public enemies, during an interview with GQ not long before he was injured in 2012, Rose spoke about the mistakes that LeBron James made when leaving Cleveland that turned the entire city against him.
“It happened overnight with him, and it was sad to see somebody go through that,” Rose said. “It would hurt anyone to see your hometown turn on you like that.”
When asked during the interview whether he might get “Lebron’d” himself someday, the Bulls star responded: “I won’t ever put myself in a bad position so that people can say bad things about that.”
Well, Rose did end up putting himself in such a position by choosing to sit out the entirety of the 2012-13 season. But unlike LeBron, the guy didn’t shed his South Side roots for the glamour of South Beach. Rose is still a Chicagoan. He’s still a Bull. And soon he’ll be back – hopefully better than ever.
“It’s just going to be an emotional day,” Rose said about his impending return while attending a shoe launch event on Sunday at the United Center that drew about 5,000 (cheering) fans. “Just playing again and being around my teammates and being in the atmosphere of an arena, playing in front of people. I haven’t had that in a long time.”
Neither has Chicago, from which I don’t think Rose expects any apologies. But as soon as he sets foot on the court, dashes down the lane and throws down a violent dunk, I do expect that any fan anger still lingering from last season will crumple like a hapless defender.
If you haven’t yet forgiven Derrick Rose, get ready.
Because you will.
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.