Every rose has its thorn, and in the case of Derrick Rose, it is his lack of drive to get back on the court.
I don't say this to question his work ethic in his rehab from the torn ACL in his left knee. I have seen nothing to suggest he isn't working as hard as possible to get back on the court.
The problem is that his competitive drive is not overriding what is keeping him off the court.
Rose was medically cleared to play in early March, but as the regular season came to a close, Rose had yet to play in a game this season.
The reason, as ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla points out, is Rose's "lack of confidence in going full speed during games on his surgically repaired left ACL."
This is certainly understandable. Anyone who has spent even a minute watching Rose play knows that this is a point guard who likes to play at break-neck speed. He likes to make quick cuts and play above the rim, and these are the things that put tremendous strain on a knee.
If that knee doesn't feel the way it used to when making those moves, it would be natural for Rose to fear another injury like the one he experienced less than a year ago.
However, while this is understandable, it is also not a quality I would be looking for in the heart and soul of my team. An ideal team leader is someone whose competitive drive for the game of basketball is so immense that it overrides everything else.
I want my team leader blinded by the need to get back on the court and do what he does best. I want a team leader I have to protect from himself when it comes to injuries.
I want someone who hits the court and is blinded by everything but performing the task at hand. This kind of drive is infectious, it leads those around them to greater heights, and it is the essence of a championship team.
This is what fueled Michael Jordan to greatness in the famous "flu game" or, as Henry Abbott of ESPN.com reports, the food-poisoning game.
This is what has driven Kobe Bryant to play through countless injuries.
While a torn knee is vastly different from the circumstances Jordan played through, or any of the injuries Kobe has played through, the essential nature of what drives an athlete to go after it with abandon, as opposed to caution, remains the same.
With Rose's lack of confidence keeping him off the court, he is showing that he does not have that same insatiable hunger to compete, nor is he going to be the type of player who has to be chained to the bench to keep him off the court.
This will prevent Rose from ever reaching the rarefied air of superstars that his elite talent could otherwise propel him to.
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