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updated: 4/29/2012 1:04 AM

Silly to blame Thibodeau for crushing injury

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  • Derrick Rose reats after injuring his leg in the fourth quarter of Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Chicago. The Bulls won 103-91.

       Derrick Rose reats after injuring his leg in the fourth quarter of Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Chicago. The Bulls won 103-91.
    JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer

  • Derrick Rose goes up for shot as he injures the ACL in his left leg Saturday at the United Center.

       Derrick Rose goes up for shot as he injures the ACL in his left leg Saturday at the United Center.
    JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Derrick Rose injures his knee against 76ers

 
 

Sunday's Bulls practice will be interesting if only to hear what Tom Thibodeau has to say about his substitution patterns.

Personally, I hope the Bulls' head coach doesn't retreat on his decision to have Derrick Rose on the court with little more than a minute remaining in Saturday afternoon's playoff opener.

Up to that point, the game was being faithful to every crossed "t" and dotted "i" in the script as the Bulls coasted toward a 103-91 playoff victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then all heck -- and one very important anterior cruciate ligament -- broke loose in the United Center late in the fourth quarter.

Derrick Rose drove into the lane, bounced up in the air and before coming down grimaced in pain as his season ended.

Pigeons in Wrigleyville squawked. Horses in Barrington reared up. Winds in Naperville swirled. Skies in Carol Stream darkened.

Most of all, the United Center filled with gasps.

Right then the script went to rewrite. Or maybe it didn't? Maybe the original draft called for Rose to be hurt during the playoffs. The season was headed that way from the start.

"This is part of the game," Thibodeau said. "There are going to be injuries."

He didn't expect this latest one to occur with little more than one minute remaining in the first postseason game. Not with the outcome pretty much decided. Not with the Bulls, Sixers and fans already looking to Tuesday night's Game 2.

But why shouldn't this have been predictable for the Bulls and their superstar-crossed point guard? Rose's knee injury was preceded by toe, foot, ankle, groin and back ailments.

If a screenwriter turned in a script calling for Rose to be healthy throughout the playoffs, Disney would have rejected it as unrealistic even for a fairy tale.

OK, so it's true that Rose wouldn't have been injured sitting on the bench at the end of Game 1. However, it says here he would have been hurt in the first minute of the next game, or in Game 3, or in Game 4, or sooner than later.

This was Rose's season of fragility. Odds were that his body wasn't going to hold up for a long playoff run. It turned out that it didn't for a short run.

The natural reaction to Rose going down this time is to blame Thibodeau for having him in the game so late with a double-digit lead.

I'm not going there. I'm not abandoning my mantra for professional sports: Players play.

Rose was medically cleared to be on the floor. After missing 27 of 66 regular-season games this season, Thibodeau wanted him there to work on closing out a victory.

That's OK with me, but Sixers' coach Doug Collins expressed it better than I can.

"Tom Thibodeau is coach of the year," he said. "He was last year and he is this year. He knows what he's doing coaching his team. He wanted to finish the game the way he did."

Well, not exactly the way he did. Thibodeau didn't want Rose's season to end along with this game, in agony with two trainers helping him to the locker room.

The way this season had been unfolding, actually unraveling, with injury after injury to Derrick Rose and others, all anybody could do was hope for the best even as the worst was obvious for months.

Serendipity had no chance against inevitability.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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