The return after the return after “The Return” is tonight! Bulls fans everywhere rejoice!
I know I am doing some rejoicing. Since Tom Thibodeau has been head coach the Bulls have been in the “contender” conversation. In Thibs’ first season (2010-11), Derrick Rose won MVP, the Bulls had the best record in the entire NBA, and they made all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite losing four games to one against the — at the time — new super team, Miami Heat, there was a sense of hope in the air of the Windy City that this Bulls team could be poised to do something special in the near future.
The following season (2011-12), Derrick Rose battled several nagging injuries leading up to the fatal blow of him tearing his ACL in his left knee during the first game of the playoffs against the miserable Philadelphia 76ers. Later in that series Joakim Noah got injured and the Bulls (with the best record in the Eastern Conference) lost to the 76ers (with the worst record among all playoff teams that season).
Derrick Rose went on to sit out for the entire next season (2012-13) despite all of the hype by his sponsor, Adidas, and the public relations disaster made by him, his camp, and the Bulls organization by teasing the fans and the media with a possible return in the 2012-13 season. They all even teased fans with a possible Derrick Rose return in the playoffs — which never happened.
But no need for a Rose return in those 2012-13 playoffs, the Bulls beat the Nets in the first round in a thrilling 7 game series led by Nate Robinson and Joakim Noah. Even though they lost to the Heat again four games to one, there was some rejoice around this Bulls team again for when Rose does eventually return.
All of that rejoice was long gone after just over 10 games in the 2013-14 season, Derrick Rose tore his meniscus in his right knee. The Bulls immediately said Rose was done for the season to prevent anymore public relation mishaps.
All rejoice has since been stripped from Bulls fans, they are left skeptical and bitter. They (we) will always root for Derrick Rose but trusting him to stay healthy would be delusional. But this team the Bulls have put around him (Pau Gasol, an improved Jimmy Butler, and Nikola Mirotic) sparked a little hope back into the hearts of Bulls fans. And soon as the hope began to really grow, Derrick Rose re-injured his right knee with another meniscus tear. This time the doctor removed the meniscus rather than repairing, meaning a speedier recovery time of 4-6 weeks instead of several months.
All signs point to tonight being the night of Derrick Rose’s return. Tom Thibodeau, Bulls players and members of the Bulls organization seem optimistic. The Bulls probably have the best chance out of any Eastern Conference team of beating LeBron James’ new superteam — his home-state’s Cleveland Cavaliers. And while this supporting cast around Derrick Rose is better than any he has player with probably in his life, this team needs him most of all to dethrone the king.
Speaking as a Bulls fan: I am skeptical but still hopeful for the Bulls’ seventh championship banner to be raised in the United Center at the beginning of next season.