News broke late Tuesday night that Derrick Rose’s season was in question. Sometime in the near future, Rose will require right knee meniscus surgery. With this surgery, Rose will be sidelined for the rest of the 2014-2015 season. This will be Rose’s third major injury since 2012 and it puts the final nail in the coffin of the belief that he can be a superstar still.
When Rose went down in the first game of the playoffs in 2012, he would not step on the court until the fall of 2013, playing in only ten games before tearing the meniscus in his left knee. This season, he has played in 46 games, his most since his MVP-winning 2010-2011 campaign, but injuries have come back again to end his season. If he isn’t on the court, that’s an easy way to rule out his best-in-the-league claim.
Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, and now Derrick Rose. These are just a few players that have had their NBA careers heavily affected because of injuries. Rose has shown that he is a superstar in this league, but unfortunately that time is now gone. Perhaps the one that he relates to most is Hardaway. Like Rose, Hardaway was also a first round selection out of Memphis. Foot, ankle, and knee injuries shortened Hardaway’s career and he never reached his full potential. Hardaway played more than 70 games in a season only three times, his first three seasons in the NBA (although he did play in all 50 games of the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season. The four-time All Star suffered a left knee injury in 1997 that was the beginning of the end. He would make the All Star team that year despite his injuries, but it would be the final time. At his peak, 1995-1996, Hardaway averaged 21.7 PPG and 7.1 APG while starting in all 82 games. Ten years later, he would come off the bench four times and score a total of ten points that season.
Like Hardaway, Rose has proven himself in the league before injuries. When Rose was MVP of the NBA, he averaged 25 PPG and 7.7 APG. In 2011-2012, his numbers dipped slightly because he was slowed by injuries throughout the season, but none were as major as tearing his ACL in the playoffs. Since then, it’s clear that he isn’t who he used to be on the court. He is now a much more hesitant player. The days of his flashy dunks and non-stop aggressive drives into the lane are long gone and won’t return.
The problem is simple; if Rose can’t stay on the court, he won’t produce MVP numbers. It’s not easy to accept, but it’s reality. It’s as much of a physical struggle as it is a mental battle. Rose has to be questioning himself along the way and wondering if he should tone down his tenacious play in order to save himself. Until he is able to play a full season, Rose’s prime is finished.