Sports

'It felt like a funeral'

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary that the Bulls franchise was set back at least a year with Derrick Rose's ACL tear in his left knee. Rose suffered through the lockout-shortened season with a string of injuries that ended with one of the more devastating things that can happen to an athlete.

Bulls fans may remember what the day was like, April 28, 2012, in Chicago: Cold, damp with overcast skies. With the city feeling like the team was on a collision course in the Eastern Conference finals with Miami, nobody could've imagined how the weather that day would be symbolic for the Bulls.

"Everybody was down," Jimmy Butler said of the team's feeling after Rose's injury. "To see your leader go down like that, it's just tough. Derrick is someone who wants to do great things for himself and the city, his city – this is where he was born and raised – and for him to get hurt like that, it was hard."

As he lay on the floor, grimacing in pain after making a move he's made probably a thousand times, dead silence fell over the United Center.

"It felt like a funeral," Butler said. "You just know that when a guy has to leave the floor like that and then to go back in the locker room and see the look on his face, it was tough because you knew it was bad. Here's a guy that's so talented offensively and the way he gets the crowd into the game by the way he plays, you knew that was going to be missing."

"To me, when I look back at Derrick's situation and what happened last year, I feel like it's just really sad," said Joakim Noah, who is dealing with his own injury this season, plantar fasciitis in his foot. "He's somebody who is just so important to this franchise and to this city. When I first came here, we were really struggling. And then he comes in here and just changes the whole mindset of what Chicago Bulls basketball is all about."

Rose's injury has now caused him to miss the entire regular season due to his choice to take his time rehabbing instead of rushing back on the court. As such, the former MVP has received a ton of backlash and criticism. Joakim Noah takes exception to that.

"It's really sad how judgmental people are," Noah said. "If he feels like he's not ready [to play], people have to respect that. I have his back 150 percent and just to see how quick people are to judge him, it's crazy. People want him out there for their own selfish reasons. And I mean, he's dealing with this better than anyone I've ever seen, but I know the criticism isn't easy for him."

Bryan Crawford is a RedEye special contributor.

 

DERRICK ROSE INJURY TIMELINE

April 28, 2012: Tears his ACL versus Philadelphia in the playoffs.

May 12: Undergoes surgery to repair his knee.

Nov. 12: Begins making cuts in practice.

Dec. 28: Returns to noncontact practices.

Jan. 9: Begins dunking and handling “predictable contact” in practice.

March 8: Dr. Brian Cole, who performed Rose’s surgery, medically clears Rose to play.

March 10: Rose says his hamstrings are “on fire” after workouts.

April 7: Rose says he won’t rule out playing during Bulls’ postseason.

April 20: Coach Tom Thibodeau says Rose is “most likely out” for postseason.


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