When Derrick Rose hit the game-winning shot on Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA season opener, Bulls fans had to feel confident that this was their year. And coming off winning league MVP the year prior, D. Rose seemed primed and ready to lead the Bulls to the championship promised land.
But basketball has always been called a metaphor for life and as such, nothing is “promised.”
The 2011-2012 season is one that Rose would just as soon forget. Due to nagging injuries all year long, Derrick was forced to sit 27 of the allocated 66 games, the most he'd missed in his entire four-year career. It all started when he re-aggravated his turf toe against the Minnesota Timberwolves in January.
At the time, no one would've ever thought something so seemingly small could lead to the biggest and most serious injury imaginable.
After the toe, Rose began having problems with his back, his groin, his ankle and his foot which brings us to that fateful Saturday afternoon on April 28 – the NBA Playoff opener – when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
But in spite of that lowlight, Derrick still gave Bulls fans plenty of highlights. To name a few: the aforementioned game against the Lakers in December, his 29 points and 16 assists against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers a few days after that, the near triple-double (30 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds) and game-winning shot over Brandon Jennings against the Milwaukee Bucks on the road in March.
Even the game against the Timberwolves counts as a highlight. He hurt his toe in the first quarter but continued to play – despite being able to cut and move in his normal fashion – and scored 31 points and dished out 11 assists in a Bulls win. He even flirted with a triple-double in the game he tore his ACL (23 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists).
His worst game of the season, by far, was his 1-13 shooting night against the Miami Heat in April, a game in which he scored just two points and was actually benched but the Bulls were able to win anyway. Of the 39 games he played in this season, Derrick failed to score double figures in all but four of them.
All things considered, Rose had a very good season and when he did play, he was as unstoppable as ever.
Unfortunately, Bulls fans will now have to wait anywhere from 8-12 months to see him don his No. 1 jersey again as he recovers from a knee injury, and any dreams of another NBA Championship banner hanging from the United Center rafters will have to be deferred for the foreseeable future.