Knee surgeries and rehabilitations are brutal. In professional sports, the three letters "ACL" lead to 12 months of another three letters -- "MIA" -- before the athlete makes his return to the court. Getting back right can take another year or it can never happen at all.
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is not only determined to get back to the court after tearing his left ACL during the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs back in April, he seems dead set on not disappearing.
Rose and his athletic shoe and apparel endorser, adidas, have launched a multimedia campaign to keep the 2011 MVP in the public eye and to keep him connected to fans as he goes through the rehab grind. The series of videos -- called "The Return" -- launched its first episode on Wednesday.
In the debut video, dubbed "Belief," Rose first reflects on the injury, which occurred at the United Center during Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
"I was injured basically almost the whole year," Rose explains, "so I was thinking in the playoffs, 'I'm good.' First game of the playoffs: injured."
The injury was a huge emotional blow to Bulls fans and his absence ultimately was too much for Chicago to overcome, as Philadelphia advanced in the series. The video shows Rose doing what he could, attending the games for moral support.
"The next game is back at home and I have to take the ball out to center court," an emotional Rose says. Then he adds: "In my hometown."
The injury occured while Rose exploded into a drive and it looked serious to the observer before he even came back down to the ground, as he was clearly off-balance and disoriented. Rose, however, recalls holding out hope and being in denial about the seriousness of what was facing him.
"When I tore my ACL, I didn't think it was nothing big," he says. "The whole time I was in the MRI machine, I'm praying and crying and stuff and hoping it wasn't tore. Think of your most downest day and times that by 100. That ain't enough to describe how I felt at that time."
With that scene set, the video shifts to the recovery process. Rose is shown, flanked by family members, visiting with doctors and walking in and out of hospitals.
"I waited a couple weeks [to have surgery] because they call it pre-rehab, where they try to strengthen it as much as possible," he explains. "I was almost walking regular. Some people that have ACL tears go a whole year without getting surgery. I went a couple of weeks, [but] I had to get surgery."
After surgery, of course, the true rehabilitation begins, and Rose is shown grimacing in pain as he does leg lifts. His leg shakes as he stands on a balance ball.
"I'm back at zero again," he says of the surgery. "It's starting back over. I never had a base. Working on my upper body strength. Working on my balance, working on my core. It's definitely been tough but I'll be alright."
The spot ends on an uplifiting note, as you might expect.
"I know it's going to help me in the long run," he says of the injury and the recovery phase. "Nobody believed in me in the beginning, just me and my friends. My friends, my city and my fans, that's it. That's all I need. I want to be great. I'm going to be great, there's no doubt about it."
For Bulls fans, though, the best words in the spot are some of the only words not spoken by Rose himself.
"He has a chance to be 125 percent [healthy]," a doctor confidently tells Rose and his family.