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Derrick Rose came to Rio, he saw Rio, but he didn't conquer Rio.
In fact, he surprised fans by sitting out the Bulls' Saturday exhibition game in the Brazilian city (a game in which the Bulls beat the Wizards 83-81).
In at least 90 percent of scenarios, this isn't a big deal. The process of a point guard returning to action 17 months after a knee injury that usually takes 10 to 11 months to heal enough to enable athletes to compete again is going to be rocky sometimes. There are going to be small setbacks no matter what.
The trouble is, as it has been for a year now, that Rose still isn't realistic about his rehabilitation from the torn knee ligament that sidelined him early in the 2012 playoffs.
When he says things like "you wouldn't expect [soreness] to happen," he makes it clear that he still has the expectation that his knee will not only be as good as new, it will be better.
But of course that isn't the case. One of the reasons that Rose's injury was so sad was that it ensured he would never again quite be what he once was as a basketball player. Earlier exhibition action has shown that Rose still can go up and down the court at about a thousand miles per hour, but the soreness that forced him to sit out is something he hasn't experienced before but will now experience at times for the rest of his life.
The fear is that it isn't completely unreasonable to see Rose sitting out of Saturday's game as the start of a whole new drama series patterned after the one that played out at the end of last (regular) season and in the playoffs.
So far this preseason, it has appeared as though the Bulls brass perfectly handled Rose's daily "Will I or won't I?" approach to returning to the lineup last spring. The team remained steadfast in its assertion that only Rose would decide when he was ready to play again and that he absolutely wouldn't be pressured to return to action by anyone in the front office - though Rose said it was the front office that decided he would sit in Rio.
And it has seemed as though Rose has been happy as can be with his team as he has returned to official preseason action in the last month.
This week - with home exhibitions scheduled at the United Center on Wednesday against the Pistons and Friday versus the Pacers) - will start to tell the tale, but nothing will really be known until the season opener at Miami a week-and-a-half later and on Halloween, when the Bulls will make their home debut.
Of course, we were reminded again last week that it could be much worse - the Bulls could have drafted Michael Beasley instead of Rose.
Bulls fans may recall that while the consensus was definitely for drafting Rose ahead of Beasley in the 2008 draft, there were some who favored taking the forward from Kansas State. Instead, the Bulls left Beasley on the board for the Heat, who had the second pick that year. He was a bust, washing out of Miami, Minnesota and Phoenix.
Remarkably, the Heat has brought him back for a last shot and he actually has a chance at sticking mostly because the salary-capped Heat are desperate to fill out their bench with minimum-wage guys with at least a tiny bit of talent.
Now, the question of whether the Bulls made the right pick is laughably moot at this point, but Beasley continues to provide a comforting comparison even to a Rose who is babying his knee.
Late last week, for example, the Heat felt the need to note that the swelling in Beasley's face at the end of an exhibition game was not caused by Beasley punching himself.
Not that Beasley didn't punch himself. Nobody denies that he knocked around his own noggin several times during the game. It's just that Heat wanted everyone to know that Beasley's face swelled up from taking blow to the forehead from the Pistons' Jonas Jerebko.
Rose may still need to get real about his knee, but at least he's not punching it when it doesn't do what he wants.
* Dan Bernstein: Rose Has Work To Do.
* K.C. Johnson: Soreness Part Of Process For Rose.
* NBC Chicago: Rose Says Vertical Increased By Five Inches.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.
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Posted on Sep 17, 2018