AL HAMNIK: Sidelined Derrick Rose facing damage control as well

2013-04-22T17:30:00Z 2013-10-12T22:04:08Z AL HAMNIK: Sidelined Derrick Rose facing damage control as wellAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
April 22, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

Fans will turn on a professional athlete faster than a rabid dog. It's their nature as paying customers.

So the fact Derrick Rose has gone from hero to goat shouldn't surprise anyone. Fans want their superstars to be invincible on the court and neighbor-like in public.

Most of all, they want them fearless.

And therein lies the rub: Derrick Rose did not come back, as promised, from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered in last year's playoff opener with Philadelphia.

The surgery was successful and he would likely return this season, probably late March, early April, in time for the playoffs, we were led to believe.

And then watch out. Derrick Rose, even at 85 percent, was better than what many NBA rosters had to offer.

But the franchise failed us, and badly. He's recovered, physically. He has the Bulls' permission to play, a doctor's release, but he's scared.

Fans are angry and showing their teeth, snarling. Teammates are upset, disappointed, but act like they understand, though they don't.

Joakim Noah bravely attempting to play with painful plantar fasciitis -- described as running barefoot on carpet tacks -- doesn't help elicit sympathy for Rose.

Coach Tom Thibodeau has run interference for his star, saying no two torn ACLs are the same, that each player's recovery time is different.

But years from now, when he's done coaching and no longer associated with the Bulls, Thibodeau will surely write a book in which he candidly admits how disappointed he was in Rose's reluctance to suck it up and take the court.

If the hometown hero wasn't going to return, he needed to say so weeks ago instead of leading everyone on. His family, particularly big brother Reggie, needed to end this tiresome soap opera.

As the sporting world watched Rose be helped off the United Center court the day his knee exploded, there were prayers mixed with tears. He had such heart. He was so driven. A fearless leader you could count on.

The Knicks' Iman Shumpert and the Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio both had the same injury and they returned. Shumpert played in 45 regular-season games; Rubio 57.

But not Derrick. He's afraid.

Something happened to change his mind.

Was it his sick contract with Adidas? As PR campaigns go, the sports shoe giant's plan to chronicle Rose's comeback with a video, Facebook page and Twitter page was a complete bust.

I watched it the other day and laughed.

The video begins with Rose's injury. It shows him being picked up off the floor like a rag doll and led to the training room. Then come the slogans and catch phrases.

"what's inside d rose"

"can't be stopped"

We witness his painful rehab and boot-camp conditioning, all while he stares into the TV cameras defiantly, like Rocky preparing for Ivan Drago.

More catch phrases.

"belief. hope. focus. push. drive"

And then the promise:

"d rose will rise. join him"

"#thereturn"

Though it makes them look stupid, perhaps Adidas pressured Rose not to return for fear of having its cash cow hurt again.

Maybe that's what he's really afraid of.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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