CHICAGO, March 14, 2013 — When Derrick Rose tore his ACL 10 months, 14 days and 63 regular season games ago (not that anyone’s counting), Chicago sank. The city was shadowed by a nebulous cloud of depression, starting with the first time all of us saw a news anchor look us dead in the eyes and tell us “He [Rose] won’t be coming back for a long time.”
He was supposed to lead the Bulls into an epic clash with the Heat, but instead they were left to watch the second round of the playoffs alone.
The following offseason, the Bulls ownership made it very clear that they had no intention of playing winning basketball this year, refusing to pay to bring back Omer Asik (2nd in the league in rebounding this year), Kyle Korver (one of the best sharpshooters of all-time), Ronnie Brewer (a defensive ace who was just learning how to shoot), and the rest of the suddenly expensive Bench Mob.
They chose instead to sign a handful of veterans to minimum deals while trying to save as much money as possible, never mind the fact that the United Center sells out each and every time the Bulls take the floor.
So why should Rose come back? What does he owe these owners?
It all starts with All-Galactic coach Tom Thibodeau. He demands the most out of his players, pressing them for nothing short of perfection on defense while keeping them amongst the most fundamentally sound offensive players in the league.
Just how good a coach is Thibs?
He’s made league-wide journeyman Nazr Mohammed look like a defensive rock. All of the sudden, a lineup with Marco Belinelli running point guard (normally a shooting guard), Jimmy Butler playing shooting guard (a small forward), and three big men can come in for the last seconds against the Utah Jazz and close out a win.
Thibodeau’s emphasis on defense can’t be overstated. The Bulls currently sit at third in the league in defense by allowing a mere 91.3 points per game, all without much contribution at all from the power forward spot (every bad thing you’ve heard about Boozer’s defense is probably true).
Unfortunately, every Achilles has a heel; the Chicago Bulls’ offense wouldn’t stand out in the NCAA tournament. An MVP point guard sure would seem to help that.
Derrick Rose is the last piece this team needs to make a run at a title, and even if they’d be underdogs against the Heat, it’s worth a shot because everyone who plays LeBron James for the next ten years is going to be an underdog regardless of who’s on their team. The Bulls have as good a team now as they’ve had since Rose arrived, if he returns, and that team should allow them to have success in the playoffs.
Of course, this is all assuming that Rose is healthy. If he is, he should come back to Chicago and try one more time to carry this team to a title.
After all, you can’t win championships sitting on the sideline.
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! and That Liberal Pinko in the Communities at the Washington Times Online.
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