I am absolutely shattered this evening. It's just how I'm feelin' at this time. Yes, the Chicago Bulls opened their playoff campaign with a victory but the win comes at a price, superstar (reigning MVP) point guard Derrick Rose is sidelined for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Read between the lines and "remainder of the season" will also include the London Olympics, all of the pre-season and likely, a small chunk of the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
Don't be mistaken, this injury had nothing to do with a condensed schedule, David Stern chasing the almighty dollar for the League or – contrary to what some Nike designers believe – Rose's choice of footwear. This was an 'impact' injury caused by an explosive movement from a player who only knows one speed – turned all the way up to 11. It wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference if he had been wearing LeBron 9's. The damage is done though, and the Bulls have gone from a side contending for the 'chip, to just another Eastern Conference team hoping to steal a game off the Men In Black from South Beach.
Realistically Chicago probably would not have gotten past the Heat in a 7-game series, the glaring need for a second scorer who can create is still evident, aside from that though the Bulls looked like they had been playing to their max potential all season long while Miami looked like they were waiting to turn the defensive intensity up a notch. The MVP missed 27 games in the regular-season – Chicago's record was 18-9 in those encounters – but the playoffs are a different beast and Rose, despite being underdone in terms of game fitness, was expected to carry the Bulls once again past the Sixers, (likely) Boston and then a Miami team which apparently is one of the few teams in the NBA with the ability to just "flip a switch."
Chicago may be able to defeat the Sixers and either one of the Celtics (who are enduring their own injury concerns) or the Hawks, but getting past Miami is another thing altogether.
Aside from the short-term implications of Rose's injury, the Bulls faithful must surely be wondering what a once-promising future, a new dynasty in the making, will now look like once the hometown hero returns. Will Rose, whose game relies so much on athleticism and explosiveness, be able to recapture the game he displayed over the past 18 months (when healthy)? Other players have suffered the same injury and returned to their pre-injury form I hear you say, very true, but the ones that have returned didn't rely on their explosion as much as Rose.
'Pooh' will return, of that there is no question. He is only 23-years old but the guy who has improved his game each year in the NBA may have to start working on a post game, and perhaps even a killer fadeaway like Mike in his latter years.
Unlike other leading teams in the modern NBA, the Chicago Bulls have opted with the lone superstar to carry the franchise – hopefully that's a decision that will not come back to haunt a franchise starved of ultimate success ever since Mike left the building. Will that still be the case when Southside Chicago's finest returns next season?