Yet, many Chicago fans and NBA observers wonder if Derrick Rose could have been a contributor in this series. He says he still isn't ready to return from last season's knee injury that forced him out of the 2012 playoffs and now he'll have another full offseason to prepare to get back on the court. However, because of his decision to sit out the 2013 playoffs, the pressure on Derrick Rose just became much more intense.
I don't know if he could have done anything to help the Bulls this season. Coming back in the playoffs would have meant dealing with a tremendous amount of rust and, even when he's healthy, I'm not sure Chicago is good enough to beat the Heat in a series. The problem is - Bulls fans now have the impression that Rose didn't even care enough to try.
Derrick Rose is considered one of the NBA's elite players. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year in his first season in the league and won the MVP award in 2011, making him the youngest player in league history to win the award. Only 24 years old, Rose still has incredible potential, if he can stay healthy.
As an elite player, Rose is expected to do everything he can to help lead his team to a championship. We can debate whether or not that's fair, but it doesn't really matter because it's true. As Derrick Rose sat on the bench while his team was eliminated by the Heat, people began to question how much he cared about helping his team. In most eyes, that's unacceptable when you're talking about a player of his caliber.
Now, Rose has no excuses going into next season. The grace period of working his way back is over. There will be no question that he's had plenty of time to recover and build the strength back in his knee. There shouldn't be any issue with getting used to practicing with his teammates again. There can't be any more talk about "muscle memory."
The only question is whether or not Rose is mentally strong enough to return. And that's on him.
Along with the mental factor of returning from a difficult injury, Rose will have to face the potential questions and criticism if he doesn't have a great start next season.
People will expect to see the old Derrick Rose. No more Adidas campaigns about returns or quotes from his brother about unrealistic expectations. Just Rose out on the court making spectacular plays. After watching him sit the bench while his team fell to the Heat, I doubt Chicago fans will tolerate anything less.
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