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updated: 4/29/2012 12:59 AM

Serious Rose injury felt inevitable

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  • Derrick Rose is assisted off the court after injuring the ACL in his left leg Saturday at the United Center.

      Derrick Rose is assisted off the court after injuring the ACL in his left leg Saturday at the United Center.
    JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Derrick Rose injures his knee against 76ers


The hush that came over the UC said it all.

And if it didn't, Tom Thibodeau's postgame posture, and his players' quiet locker room conversations, revealed all you needed to know.

Derrick Rose is done for the year with a torn ACL.

The knee injury suffered with 1:22 left in a game the Bulls had well in hand -- Saturday's Game 1 victory over Philadelphia -- is the ending to a miserable season for Rose that began with nagging aches, continued with numerous pains and concluded with a severe knee injury that calls into question whether he will ever be the same player he was in his MVP season.

Rose played in only 39 of 66 regular-season games as he collected injuries that included a turf toe, pulled groin, foot strain, ankle sprain and back spasms.

He didn't play more than a couple games in a row after a foot injury seven weeks ago.

Many will question why Thibodeau had Rose still in the game considering all that has happened to Rose this year.

It is a fair question.

But many of the same who will be angry have also praised Thibodeau for his relentless approach to effort and defense that allowed the Bulls to win without Rose, and will allow them to defeat the Sixers without their best player.

Many will question whether this is David Stern's fault, that this shortened season with too many games crammed into a few months was a cash grab for the owners and endangered the players.

It is a fair question.

But many of the same who will blame Stern would have been upset with fewer games on their beloved NBA schedule, a schedule the players agreed to play and for which they were also happily paid.

Many will question now if this is the end for the Bulls' shot at a title this season.

It is a fair question.

But the Bulls were not going to win it all this year anyway, and many who thought they really had a chance were delusional based on the results of a nonsensical regular season.

Perhaps the most important question revolves around only the 23-year-old Rose, who has taken a ferocious beating the last four years in a very big and physical league that is nothing like what he encountered in college or high school, where he used his astonishing physical skills without much fear of injury.

It's probably true that if his knee was going to blow, then it was going to blow whether Thibodeau left him in Saturday, whether Stern pushed too many games into too short a calendar, and whether Rose was too focused on winning a single game to understand the long-term implications.

But since the moment he entered the NBA, those who admired Rose have also wondered aloud how long he would take the punishment before figuring out a better way to go about his job.

Legends no less accomplished than Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas have expressed concern -- some with more authority than others -- over Rose's need to attack the basket with such anger, especially when a game was no long in question and when Rose could save something for another day.

Is that why he got hurt Saturday afternoon?

We'll never know for sure.

What Bulls fans are left wondering now is whether Rose will be the same player when he returns.

Medical science is spectacular these days when it comes to such repairs, and physically Rose will eventually be 100 percent. Mentally, it may take some time before he explodes with the same confidence he has always displayed.

And maybe that's a good thing.

Thomas said it himself a couple years ago when he warned that the NBA is bigger, tougher and more dangerous than when he played the game at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, and that Rose at 6-3, 190 is often giving up 75 or 100 pounds to those who conspire to guard him in the lane.

How much of this is the fault of Thibodeau, Stern or Rose is unclear.

It might just have been that Rose's knee was ready to go and this was the time it occurred.

But if you're desperate to find a bright side to this, maybe Rose will learn how to better protect himself, and find ways to minimize the beating he takes on NBA floors.

He also has 10 years of prime time left in his career. This is not the end for him.

If it makes you feel better, consider it a new beginning.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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