Derrick Rose, in the Injury Footsteps of Michael Jordan

When Derrick Rose comes back from his ACL injury, which now looks no sooner than March 2013, the Chicago Bulls would love him to be as good as Michael Jordan was when he came back from his injury during the 1985-1986, helping the team eventually reach the playoffs, leading to his ‘god-like’ 63 point game.

Rose isn’t Jordan, although after the 2010-2011 season, with the Bulls and Rose doing a few firsts since the Jordan era easily creating and drawing those comparisons. It’s always hard to grasp the greatness of something while in the moment, so the comparisons with the past, plenty of times unfair and unjust, are inevitable.

Rose hit a roadblock last season, his fourth in the NBA, following his surprising MVP season, in the form of injuries in all shape and form. Back, neck, ankle; you name it. He never really got any consistency in terms of playing time during the season, often brought back, maybe too soon, and going back to the DL. The Bulls brought him back to the first playoff game against the 76ers, which they won with ease. Rose wasn’t perfect, but he was on his way to a triple double with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Then came the awkward jump, landing, ACL tear and surgery with 10-12 months recovery period.

Jordan didn’t tear his ACL, which is considered one of the hardest injuries to get back from. Jordan broke his left foot, causing him to miss most of the season. He returned in March, and the Bulls gradually got him back into business. He finished that season averaging 22.7 points while playing 25.1 minutes, the lowest numbers of his Bulls career. The next year was the moment the Jordan legend began – the streak of scoring titles and later on the important titles combined with the MVPs.

Derrick Rose and the Bulls were on the right course. A great rookie season and a first round postseason exit. An improvement in the second season, a first round postseason exit. An explosion in the third season, with the Bulls winning over 60 games and reaching the Conference finals while having an MVP for the first time since you know who. A deep team, not flawless, but certainly a tweak or two away from a title.

Last season, with Rose on the court, the Bulls were the best team in the NBA. The problem is he wasn’t on it half the time, and the playoff exit to the Philadelphia 76ers exposed a lot of flaws on a team that seemed destined to win the NBA title very soon. Suddenly, they practically decided to give up on the 2012-2013 season, revamping the roster and weakening the best bench in the NBA, setting themselves up for the 2013 summer, hopefully getting rid of Carlos Boozer by then.

The Bulls committed themselves to Michael Jordan in the mid-80’s, adding pieces each year until Jordan was too good and the team around him was too good. Derrick Rose isn’t Jordan, and Luol Deng isn’t Scottie Pippen. However, Chicago weren’t spending the kind of money they are now, believing that they’re future success is directly related to the health of who should be the best point guard in the NBA when he’s 100%.

Maybe Rose should get the whole season off, so there’s no chance of risking him. Jerry Reinsdorf thinks they brought back Jordan too soon, looking back at what went down nearly 20 years ago. Jordan thinks it was just fine. It turned out fine, in the end. But Rose isn’t Jordan, and last season showed that maybe he’ll never even be close, with pesky injuries in the way as well as the talent limit. Still, the Bulls have a chance to build a title winning team despite the setback, but everything is based on the presuming Rose comes back from his injury like his old self, which is far from guaranteed.