12:27 PM EDT, March 27, 2013
Greatness comes to the United Center on Wednesday night. LeBron James will be in concert. He will be backed by the Miami Heat symphony.
The Heat are the reigning champions, they own a remarkable 27-game winning streak and James is the MVP, it’s over, just give it to him already. In fact, you might want to retire the trophy until James says otherwise.
To recap, the Heat have the title that Derrick Rose craves and the player that the ultra-competitive Rose likely believes he must conquer, and that’s why I figured this would be the game in which Rose came back. But no, coach Tom Thibodeau ruled Rose out at Wednesday's morning shoot-around.
Look, Rose has to play sometime if his rehab from surgery on his left anterior cruciate ligament is ever going to continue expediently. That was always the case.
Going back to the post-op news conference, Dr. Brian Cole said the only way Rose eventually would play his way back to being one of the best in the game is to actually play. Whatever a patient’s reluctance, that always has been a phase of recovery.
It’s a daily thing, though, questioning when Rose will come back. The answer we’re getting, surprisingly and unfortunately, seems to reveal a mental state in need of surgery, too. Rose is either afraid to jump and land or afraid to play a game in which he is not DERRICK ROSE, all caps.
But he won’t be. Not at the start. Not for a while. The team and the docs have explained that, but Rose apparently isn’t listening.
Obviously, he isn’t listening. Someone who declared he wouldn’t come back until he’s “110 percent’’ just doesn’t get it. He never will be even 100 percent. Not at the start and maybe not ever. But he can come close.
If he’d just freakin’ suit up and play already.
It has been a month of scrimmaging, which was the doctors’ sign that the next critical phase of Rose’s recovery had begun. The team tried to make that point with a leaked story, but it was received badly by Rose and his people. Who knows if spite has become a factor, but I wouldn’t discount it.
There hasn’t been public grumbling from Rose’s teammates, but that doesn’t mean those shorthanded, weary players who see a quality Rose in practice aren’t looking at him sideways and thinking, “Come ON, already.’’
All reports suggest Rose has looked good in practice and scrimmages. Certainly good enough to play in a real game, it sounds like. It’s surprising that Rose hasn’t taken that step, as manic as his history suggests he is about competing at the highest level.
What could be going on at those practices that is stopping Rose? Is the former MVP getting pantsed by Nate Robinson? Or, perish the thought, Marquis Teague?
Or if he’s waiting to feel perfect, then he should just retire.
Wherever Rose’s game is in the Berto Center doesn’t matter nearly as much as where his game is in the United Center, and what better way to find out how far you are from being the best than to compete against the best?
Especially when your team desperately needs a hero.
Especially when the opponent is the best player in the game and arguably one of the five best in history.
Especially when you would have the weapons-grade jolt of hometown support.
Especially when the game is on national TV.
That’s why I figured Wednesday’s game would be “The Return.’’
I know it sounds awfully Hollywood -- looking at you, Adidas -- but I believed this scenario fit the Rose profile.
The old Rose profile, anyway. The one comprised of equal parts talent, drive and fearlessness.
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