Bulls' Rose becomes a thorny issue
Picture this for a moment: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is coming off an arm injury that required off-season surgery.
The quarterback and team leader has missed the first 10 games of the season, and with the Steelers holding a 6-4 record and sitting one game behind the Ravens in the AFC North Division (and a showdown with Baltimore in Week 15), doctors clear Roethlisberger to play.
However, the quarterback says he doesn't feel right and misses a game. Then another. Then another.
And with the Steelers' season on the brink, he says he doesn't know when he will play even though doctors long ago said his injury is healed.
How about this scenario: Evgeni Malkin has been recovering all off-season after surgery on his knee. Midway through the NHL season, and after the star has taken part in several team skates before games, team doctors said he is good to go and can resume playing.
The Pens are in a dogfight with the Rangers and Devils in the standings and Malkin continues to skate in practice but does not return.
The team starts to slip in the race and Malkin still does not return.
How would you feel?
Would you still support decisions by Roethlisberger or Malkin if, despite complete clearance by team doctors, they say they don't feel ready to return for the stretch and playoff runs?
Well, let's look at the situation with Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose.
Rose, the team's all-star guard and team leader, is one of the game's most gifted players.
Last season he suffered a devastating knee injury that required surgery. He has been undergoing rehabilitation during the entire NBA season.
The Bulls, meanwhile, have managed to stay in the playoff chase without their star player. Chicago is currently tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference race, where the top eight teams make the playoffs.
A year ago, with Rose, the Bulls were one of the favorites to come out of the East and play for the NBA title.
Recently, Rose's personal doctor cleared him to return to action, saying he is currently healthy and his knee is completely healed.
The problem is Rose says he is not ready to play. He has participated in team drills and shootarounds and admits that while he has been cleared he does not have the confidence yet to play competitively.
He says he may not return this season at all.
I wonder how the fans in Chicago are reacting to this situation.
I think it is a disgrace that Rose is not manning up and returning to his team for the stretch run.
It's not like he is Sidney Crosby and is still suffering symptoms of a concussion.
The doctors have cleared him to play. Doctors would never force a player — especially a star player of Rose's caliber — to rush back early from an injury just for the sake of winning.
He has been cleared. He is healthy. He needs to play.
Get over the worries about how the knee will hold up and get back on the bike and start pedaling.
Your team needs you. Put your big-boy pants on.
I don't care if the experts say nobody will beat the Heat in the East this season.
What if those experts say the Heat are a lock next season?
What if Rose comes out for 2013-14 and says he is still not feeling it with his knee and does not play then?
If he doesn't feel confident now, who is to say he will feel confident next season or ever?
I can't believe the guy isn't being vilified in Chicago, at the least, and throughout the NBA world, at the most, for not playing after being cleared.
His team needs him. He's getting paid millions.
Just think of how you would feel if Roethlisberger were cleared and sits out. Or Malkin.
We would all be going crazy.
And deservedly so.
Flash back to that adidas commercial for Rose that first aired in September touting his return from the injury.
It shows how devastated Chicago fans were when he got hurt, how everything just stopped, how hard he was working at rehabbing to get back to the cheers of the crowd and help his team win, how fans were awakening to his imminent return.
The commercial closes with the words “All in for D Rose.”
Apparently everyone has been all in — except D Rose.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.