With a regular season as long as the one the NBA has (82 games), there isn’t just one storyline to hold the fabric of interest together. With all due respect to LeBron James rising among the game’s legends, Kevin Durant still trying to be the best and Kobe Bryant trying to not lose with the Lakers, Derrick Rose and his comeback attempt with the Chicago Bulls should be the best one to follow in 2014.
Rose isn’t the only player trying to make a comeback this season. Kobe Bryant is probably going to get more attention just for the fact that he is who he is, and he plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. The opportunity to see the Lakers crash & burn even worse than last season while Bryant tries to save the sinking ship on his own is worthy of quite a few rating points on its own. There’s also the chance the Lakers do a lot better than expected, which would be a surprising development, yet still a good one for the NBA, needing the Lakers to be in the playoff picture and maybe even more.
In the East, the story is different. There are the Miami Heat, way above the rest, with LeBron James as the polarizing figure to attract wanted and negative attention. But how about the competition? The New York Knicks are interesting, but there’s something unappealing about the way they play on a national level, and yes it has something to do with Carmelo Anthony.
The Brooklyn Nets are emerging in a big market, but the roster they have doesn’t include a player neutrals or semi-NBA fans will tune in to on most night. The Indiana Pacers might be the best team in the East already, but Paul George isn’t a superstar yet, and the Pacers still suffer from an image problem they’re trying to get over.
That leaves the Bulls – a marquee NBA franchise, a huge market, and now, once again, the superstar they needed to complete the picture. But the question of whether or not Rose is actually as good as he was before the injury (25 points, 7.7 assists on his MVP season; 21.8 points, 7.9 assists in 2011-2012) just adds to the attraction of the Bulls’ ride this season.
Rose is among the most popular NBA players even when he’s injured, so a strong comeback run isn’t only going to bring the Bulls back to the front of the line when it comes to the challengers for the title the Miami Heat hold, but also gather a following to ‘Beat the Heat’ as so many fans around the league love to shout, while secretly hoping LeBron James signs with them.
A healthy Rose mean a strong, and possibly the strongest possible opposition to the rule of the Miami Heat over the Eastern conference and the NBA, making the option of rooting for him that much more attractive for those wanting to see a change at the top, although just following a comeback attempt for a very young player who seemed to be on his way towards a long career of super-stardom is reason enough to hope Rose ends up being back to his old self.