Here’s a story we all forgot about in the wake of the Aaron Hernandez mess. Remember Derrick Rose, and his knee injury? Remember how many people were calling him a pussy because he wouldn’t play even after doctors cleared him? Derrick Rose himself has remained largely quiet about the situation, but the other day he finally spoke to team website BullsTV.com
“I’m not a selfish guy at all. But having this injury and knowing what I had to go through and being smart, this is something I had to be selfish with. I couldn’t worry about anyone else but myself and my health.”
I don’t blame him. As a guy who has had multiple knee/leg surgeries, I can tell you first-hand that doctors don’t always know what the fuck they are talking about. The impending return of Derek Jeter bears that out.
Let us not forget that back at the beginning of this season, Jeter was also medically cleared to play, but he kept telling his doctors that his surgically-repaired ankle “just didn’t feel right.” His doctors assured him everything was fine, but after a return trip to the MRI machine, the ankle that was “just fine” was still fractured. Not “tweaked,” or a “little sore,” not even “sprained.” It was as fucking cracked as the Liberty Bell.
So, let’s take this from Derek back to Derrick. Rose took a lot of shit from the fans and the media during the Bulls run up to and during the playoffs because he never ruled out a return while the Bulls were incurring more casualties than the Romans at the Battle of Cannae (that’s right…you just got a reference to the Second Punic War in a piece about the NBA). It didn’t help matters that during the time he wasn’t playing, he was also practicing at full strength and playing well during team drills.
But, let’s be honest. In the immortal words of Allen Iverson, that was “practice.” What it came down to was Rose just never felt comfortable enough to return to game action.
The first reason for that should be obvious, so obvious even a guy like Iverson can figure it out. Practice is not a real game. Practice is with your teammates; guys who aren’t going to throw a hip into you when you are driving the lane. Rose addressed that fact in his comments.
“When you’re in practice, of course it’s not game-like speed unless it’s like training camp. Game-like experience is totally different. You have strategies. You have double-teams. When I play, I get double-teamed a lot. We play the same defense we play in the game so there weren’t any double-teams. I was able to roam around freely.”
Would you like to guess why that matters? Because if the guy if the guy is practicing at full-speed, and says something just isn’t right, then guess what? It isn’t fucking right. Neither is criticizing a guy for protecting both his body and his long-term career interests. Even though I made a reference earlier to the Roman Empire, we are not yet at the point in America where we simply don’t care about the participants in our sports. We don’t fete the winners with ox-cart led parades, while the losers are enslaved or fed to lions.
It comes down to this. It doesn’t matter if your name is Derek, and the “C” on your jersey stands for “Captain,” or if your name is Derrick and the “C” on your jersey is just the first letter in “Chicago.” Doctor or not, nobody knows one’s own body better than the guy who lives in it.