As the Bulls slip closer to mediocrity, something Derrick Rose said recently becomes more bothersome.
Just suggesting that is more bothersome to worshippers of the Bulls' point guard than anything he ever could do.
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Rose is a local product who has become a local legend who can do no wrong despite doing some wrong. So, what could Rose possibly have done to draw even an iota of criticism?
He declared that he wouldn't return from rehabbing his surgical knee until he is 110 percent healthy.
The nit to be picked over that remark isn't that Michael Jordan is the only athlete in history to play at 110 percent. It's that Rose should return at, say, even a measly 85 percent to help the Bulls improve their playoff potential.
As is said about most premier athletes, Rose is better at less than full health than most are at 100 percent.
Justin Verlander at 85 percent is better than any replacement the Tigers could send to the mound. Tom Brady at 85 percent is better than any backup quarterback the Patriots could use.
Likewise, Rose is twice as good as Kirk Hinrich. He's twice as experienced as rookie Marquis Teague. He's twice as tall as Nate Robinson, isn't he?
The Bulls won't win the NBA title with Rose this year regardless. The Heat with LeBron James will.
But when did a championship become the only reason a player would come back from injury sooner than later, if ever in Rose's case?
Even if Rose's explosion isn't there to dunk or his burst isn't there to drive the lane, he still could run the offense and provide Ray Lewis-like inspiration.
What Rose should be saying is that he will play again when it's improbable his knee is at risk of being reinjured. When doctors diagnose that time has come, he should be eager to dive back into action and help the struggling teammates for whom he professes so much affection.
Rose's co-conspirator is Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who also has said he doesn't want Rose to play until completely healthy.
Reinsdorf presumably meant at 100 percent rather than 110, though you never know to what percentage an investor will go to protect an investment as valuable as this particular basketball player.
Rose likely believes that he would embarrass himself if he returned to play at less than his old self.
Don't worry about it, young man. Your public will admire you more for risking embarrassment than for sitting out until you look like the guy who was MVP of the NBA two seasons ago.
Fans will appreciate that you sacrificed safety for the sake of exhausted teammates who are playing at less than 100 percent.
While Rose's concern should be Bulls teammates, Reinsdorf's should be Bulls fans.
The chairman can make the case that ticket buyers will be better off in the next few years if Rose comes back later than sooner.
But some of those same fans are paying hundreds of dollars per game right now, and they would get closer to their money's worth even if only 85 percent of Rose were on the court.
Again, this isn't to say that Rose should jeopardize his future by playing this week or even anytime this season if the Bulls' medical staff doesn't clear him.
But if doctors say his knee is ready and he's at no more risk than other players are …
Then Rose should return even if it means he can't play like he's accustomed to playing, and even if he has to endure anything from discomfort to pain.
Derrick Rose waiting until he's 110 percent is 100 percent bothersome.