According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls MVP, is just weeks away from practicing. This is news that will be met with joy by some Bulls fans, and met with disappointment from others.
Disappointment? Why would Bulls fans be disappointed with an early return of Derrick Rose?
Because there are a group of fans who have become so dug into the position that the Bulls are better off with Rose sitting out for the year that any notion of his returning this season has become something they root against, not for.
It occurred to me that should the Bulls decide to subscribe to this form of reasoning, they would eventually have to sit down with Rose and explain to him why, in spite of his incredibly hard work to get back from his injury, he wouldn't be playing this year.
So here is the hypothetical conversation that would then unfold when Gar Forman inevitably calls Rose to his office to explain to him why he can't play.
Forman: Hello Derrick. Thanks for coming by. We the Bulls organization want to thank you for your hard work in getting back from your injury. You've shown the same kind of work ethic here as you did when you became the youngest MVP in league history.
Rose: Aw, shucks. I just love the city of Chicago and the Bulls and the fans and can't wait to get back. I owe it you and to them. Let's go win a title.
Forman: Well, actually that's what we need to talk about. We've decided we're not actually going to play you this year.
Rose: I don't understand. Why not?
Forman: Well, some fans, and even some reporters, are worried we're rushing you back. They think it's not worth the risk.
Rose: But I have a full slate of doctors, who are among the best in the world with this type of surgery, and have worked with me extensively, who have cleared me to play. Shouldn't what they say matter more than a few fans and reporters who have no medical background and no personal knowledge of my case in particular?
Forman: You would think so, wouldn't you? But you have to understand, the doctors said it took from eight to 12 months to recover, so some fans think that means 12 months is better. Just come back in November.
Rose: But I won't be any more ready next November than I am right now. I'm fully healed now.
Forman: Don't overthink it; it's fans.
Rose: But Adrian Peterson came back from a torn ACL in less time, and he's doing great.
Forman: But that's just football, not basketball.
Rose: But football is worse. I won't have 300-pound gorillas trying to drag me to the ground. I just have to cut on the floor.
Forman: Don't overthink it; it's fans. Actually it's Bulls fans.
Rose: You mean it's really Bulls fans who don't want me to come back? Why don't they want me to come back?
Forman: Because the Bulls will start winning.
Rose: But we already are winning. We're in first place in the Central Division right now.
Forman: Don't overthink it; it's fans. They're hoping we'll turn things around, start losing and end up in the lottery.
Rose: So Bulls fans don't want me to come back because they want the Bulls to lose?
Forman: Yeah, so we can end up in the lottery.
Rose: But this draft class is really bad isn't it?
Forman: Don't overthink it, it's fans. They're hoping we can land a solid, middle-round pick in a bad draft year and then we can be a contender next year.
Rose: So Bulls fans want me to stay out so we can lose and then land a middle-round pick to turn us into a winning team? Didn't we win the most games in the NBA the past two years? We can win a title this year if I come back in time to hit my stride by the playoffs.
Forman: Don't overthink it; it's fans. They don't think we can win a title this year. They prefer to crush your soul and have you doubt yourself and your team by sitting out this year.
Rose: So they want us to be quitters and tankers this year thinking that will make us NBA Champions next year?
Forman: Don't overth....
Rose: Yeah, I know. Don't overthink it; it's fans. I think I just tore a ligament in my brain. I won't be able to play this year anyway. Bulls fans are starting to sound a lot like Heat fans.
Maybe the conversation doesn't go exactly like that, but it's probably not too far off, and it underscores the absurdity of the entire "tanking" argument.
What makes Rose special isn't just his physical make-up and his speed; it's his heart. It's the way he competes and works to be able to compete. It's his unyielding belief in himself and his teammates.
The greatest injury he can suffer this year is to not be allowed to play and undermine that confidence in both himself and his teammates.