Derrick Rose almost had me fooled.
The Bulls' former MVP point guard almost had me believing I was wrong for insisting last spring that he should resume playing in games.
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Now that an injury to his right knee will keep Rose out for the remainder of this season, I feel those of us who criticized him are validated.
The concept is as simple as it always has been.
Nineteen months ago Rose suffered an injury to his left knee and sat out all of last season. Doctors cleared him to return last spring, but he chose to wait until this autumn.
Yes, I was beginning to think that Rose made the right decision by taking an extra six months to recover.
Rose looked absolutely fabulous this preseason. He moved faster than everyone else, jumped higher than pre-injury, and overall appeared prepared to exceed his previous superstar self.
Then last Friday night Rose broke down again.
Different knee. Different season. Similar scenario.
The lesson is that an athlete can't preserve himself today for tomorrow. The future is too fragile, and there's always a good chance it'll arrive on crutches.
Some injured athletes are termed out indefinitely, but every healthy athlete is in indefinitely.
Nothing dramatic sidelined Rose this time. He simply moved in a direction that his medial meniscus didn't want to go. This reinforces that if doctors say, as they did to him late last season, that a player is healthy enough to play then he should play.
Sports aren't much different from real life, where not even one more breath is guaranteed to anyone. The next dribble isn't promised to any basketball player, so he might as well play when doctors say he can instead of waiting until the body says he can.
Rose preferred taking extra days, weeks and months to strengthen his surgical knee and every other body part along with it.
A lot of good that did, huh?
No matter how strong an athlete is he's an injury waiting to happen. They all want six-pack abs, steel-city biceps and ram-tough ligaments, as if those will protect them from injury.
Seriously, you look at the size and strength of NFL players and start thinking that a bazooka couldn't take them down. Then on any given Sunday a number of them are carted off, their muscles merely making them a heavier load to transport.
Only the strong survive? No, only the lucky do in this era of big-time sports, and luck likely will run out sooner or later.
Don't more athletes sustain an injury than make it through their careers unscathed? There's no telling when the damage will occur. They'll pop up after violent collisions but stay down after merely twisting the wrong way in the wind.
So athletes might as well embrace every chance to play even if they feel less than 100 percent.
Rose chose to cater to the long term. He wanted to maximize the odds that he'll reach his potential over the lengthy career he envisioned.
What Rose should have grasped was the concept that only the shortest of terms is ensured to any athlete.
If the same knee doesn't happen to floor him then the other one just might.
The next time Rose is cleared to play, he should play. He should enjoy himself doing what he loves doing. He should be grateful for the opportunity and resist all the reasons he concocted last spring to remain on the bench.
No, Derrick Rose's critics weren't insensitive, foolish or wrong last spring. They were sensible for invoking an uncomplicated principle.
Players play because nobody can predict what will happen to them from minute to minute, much less game to game or season to season.