By Dan Bernstein–

CHICAGO (WSCR) Derrick Rose tears ligaments in his ankle, and fans react afterward as if he came out of the game with a hangnail.

Am I the only person aware of what’s at stake, here?

Look, people, this kid doing what he does – all out, full-power, all the time — is the only thing that keeps the Bulls out of the draft lottery. Even the slightest handicap to his game dramatically alters their chances of winning anything, let alone an NBA title. The spectacular has become routine, and now taken for granted.

Wake up.

Derrick Rose is wearing a walking boot. Oh, but that’s ok, it seems, since it’s just “precautionary.” In that case, I guess everybody should be wearing them on both feet, then, all the time.

The MRI he had yesterday is being described as “negative” in headlines, which is simply not true. At least the Tribune got it mostly right, saying it was “negative for damage beyond a sprain,” which is another way of saying “positive.” The MRI showed the damage to ligaments known as a sprain.

Rose played like a shadow of himself after the injury Saturday, shooting 3-of-16, scoring just eight points, and avoiding his usual array of knife-cut drives, stop-start explosions and flying forays to the rim. You know those things, right? They are what make the Bulls win basketball games.

I thought the first three victories over the Pacers were ample reminders of what Rose is required to do for there to be any real expectations of significant achievement, but apparently not.

He’s it. This one kid is every hope, dream and possibility. He may not be 100% healthy for the rest of the playoffs, now, and he’s pretty much 100% of the Bulls. He is the most indispensable player on any team in the city, with apologies to Jay Cutler, Starlin Castro and Jonathan Toews. No one else is even close in that regard, really.

And he’ll play tomorrow, I have no doubt. His pain threshold is high, and he’s young enough that we can expect sufficient recovery in the short term for him to gut it out, perhaps with some pharmaceutical help. He won’t tell anyone if his game is limited, but we’ll know.

Ankle sprains linger. It will be weeks before Rose is fully healed, and that’s if he doesn’t tweak it again. The playoffs are proving to be a possession-by-possession grind, already, and they have just begun. Formidable opponents await.

The Bulls were an NBA-best 62-20 this season. They are a top seed. They are trying to win a championship, and the most important basketball player here since Michael Jordan just hurt himself badly enough that he clearly couldn’t play at peak efficiency.

I hate feeling like a panic-peddler, but frankly, I’m a little panicked. Rose has to be every bit the MVP for this season to now have more meaning than just a few fun months. A Stacey King description of “too big, too strong, still kinda fast and pretty good” won’t cut it.

Sprained ankles are common, indeed. It’s easy to dismiss their significance and severity as blithely as we do simple bumps and bruises.

But when it happens to Derrick Rose, it doesn’t matter that it’s common.

It matters that it matters.

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
Listen to The Boers and Bernstein Show podcasts >>