A lot of preseason games are much more than that these days, with rivalries spilling over from beyond the regular season. It seems fitting that Derrick Rose will make his first appearance in complete Chicago Bulls uniform against a team that has positioned themselves as the main challengers to the Miami Heat in the East, the Indiana Pacers.
Rose hasn’t played an NBA game since April 28, 2012, when the Bulls were beating the Philadelphia 76ers and Derrick Rose, instead of going on to sit on the bench, went down, tearing his ACL. It’ll be almost 18 months when he steps in it again, in preseason form only, on October 5, as the Bulls open their preseason schedule against the Indiana Pacers. Interestingly enough, Rose’s last regular season game in the NBA was against the Pacers on April 25 of 2012, scoring 10 points and adding 7 assists in a win for the Bulls (finishing that season tied for the best record in the league) as he was slowly coming back from a different injury.
Last season it looked like Rose was going to come back during several points. The whole media festival began in February, when reports of Rose making full-contract practices for the Bulls reached a wider audience, resulting in quite a lot of excitement about his impending comeback. In hindsight, the coverage given to his rehabilitation attempts probably turned his return into something it wasn’t supposed to be.
It’s hard to say if Rose actually planned on coming back. It didn’t matter. The Bulls won 45 games without him and made the conference semifinals. There’s a good chance Rose understood that coming back and being pressured to play more wasn’t going to do him any good, due to the chances of actually beating the Miami Heat being very slim. Giving up on that risk was the wise thing to do.
Rose is now entering his actual fifth season in the NBA, with expectations that fluctuate from best point guard in the league to simply getting through the season without any more problems. The Bulls have their title hopes and future to consider, but they need Rose healthy, not insanely good, to make the most of 2013-2014, which includes putting the Pacers back in their place.