National Columnist

Derrick Rose never played in the playoffs; can his reputation recover?

Derrick Rose saved his knee. But what did he lose?

He lost a lot of us, that's for sure. Did he lose us forever? Can't say. Don't know. Time heals a lot of things, but I'm not sure it heals this.

Did time heal Scottie Pippen's reputation? He's the guy who once refused to play the final two seconds of a tied playoff game because Bulls coach Phil Jackson designed the shot for someone else. Pippen said the hell with it. That was 1994, and I still remember. Still hold it against him. Time hasn't healed that.

Did I just compare Derrick Rose to Scottie Pippen? Maybe. I'm trying to show that time doesn't necessarily make us forget stuff when we're down on a player, and we're down right now on Derrick Rose. Listen, instead of bringing up Pippen's refusal in 1994, I would have gladly brought up the last time a great player was medically cleared to play, and was dominating teammates in practice, but wouldn't give it a shot in games even as his team reached the playoffs and won a series and had players sick and puking and hurting and getting spinal taps.

I'd have compared Derrick Rose to someone else, anyone else, if anything like his refusal to play in the 2013 playoffs -- and that's what happened; the Bulls said he could play, and he refused -- had happened before.

But this has never happened before.

If you support Derrick Rose, I'm not trying to change your mind. You've made your decision, just like a lot of us on the other side have made ours. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey wrote a few days ago that he has never "seen more anger directed at a member of the Chicago sports community than I have at Derrick Rose."

People in Chicago, where Rose is a hometown kid, are mad at Rose. Or disappointed in him. Or both. And this isn't one of those positions that's easy to take because we didn't like the player anyway. That happens sometimes. A player does something questionable, and because we don't like the guy anyway, we decide that this offense was awful.

Not the case with Rose. Most people like him. It's difficult, really, not to like him. Superstars just don't come as sweet or humble as this.

But they don't come as scared to play as this, either. Scared, or something else. And I think it's conceivably something else. Someday maybe we'll know exactly why Rose didn't come back this season, months after doctors said he could, months after he was running up and down the court -- and kicking teammates' butts -- in practice.

For Rose to not play after all that, and as his team was crumbling around him, is one of the more befuddling things I've ever seen. So while it wasn't mutinous like Scottie Pippen's refusal in 1994, it was almost as shocking in its own right. Maybe more, honestly, given that Pippen reacted in the heat of battle, and people do strange things when given a fraction of a second to make up their mind.

But Derrick Rose had months to make up his mind. And then change his mind. And he never did. He didn't play, which means he saved his knee from the possibility of reinjury.

But what did he lose?

And can he get it back?

 
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