Derrick Rose

Whenever Derrick Rose comes back from his latest injury, he will never be the same. (Getty Images / November 25, 2013)

This is not "The Return" that Bulls fans were hoping for.

Ten games into his NBA comeback after tearing his ACL in April 2012, Derrick Rose returned to the operating table Monday after damaging the meniscus in his right knee Friday. A torn meniscus was the "best" worst-case scenario for Rose with regard to his "good" knee, but it's still another surgery, another intensive rehab, and now, another lost season for Rose and the Bulls.

It seems unfair for a guy—who seems to be a good person both on and off the court—to have to go through a second knee surgery in just over 18 months. After four years of wowing us with his otherworldly athletic ability, his body has begun to betray him and it's not wrong to wonder if he'll ever be the same—not just from an athletic standpoint, either.

Rose will still be able to play basketball, run fast, jump and dunk after all this, but it's hard to imagine with the way he plays and the injuries he's sustained that he'll ever be confident in his body the way he once was. The same way we all were.

The sobering reality is that no matter what he says publicly, there will always be doubt floating around somewhere between the back and the front of his mind, and it'll reflect in his game.

He has dictated the direction of the franchise since he was drafted, and this situation will be no different. Now that he's officially been ruled out and will miss his second straight season, the Bulls' championship window, at least for now, has closed. And the end of Luol Deng's time wearing a Bulls uniform may be coming sooner rather than later.

But the saddest scenario of all is the Rose Era in Chicago may now be over.

Hometown kid leads hometown team to an NBA championship would've made for a great story. It's just too bad his knees didn't cooperate. Now it's a story that may never be told.

Bryan Crawford is a RedEye special contributor.

 

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