A standard Bulls news day — Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton and Taj Gibson are all still out with injury — has been disrupted by some pretty amazing news: Derrick Rose’s doctor has cleared him to play!
But he won’t. Not yet anyway.
According to ESPNChicago’s Melissa Isaacson:
Derrick Rose’s doctor has cleared the Chicago Bulls’ star to play, a team source said, but his long-awaited return to the lineup won’t occur until he can confidently dunk off his left foot, Rose has told the team.
Rose, who had surgery to repair a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on May 12, has been videotaped dunking off each foot, but more casually than he would during a game. A source said that although he has been practicing and scrimmaging hard, he told the Bulls that until he feels “in his mind” he can confidently dunk off his left foot in a game situation, he is not 100 percent mentally ready to return to competition.
It’s positive news. Great news. But also a little bit of a letdown to everybody jonesing to see Rose play again.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “He’s doing everything there is to do in practice so he’s been cleared from that standpoint. We’ll cross that bridge [whether Rose will play when he says hes ready] when we get there. We’re just going day by day. Just keep improving. There’s a lot of people that got to sign [off]. Obviously, he’s the most important piece. But from Jerry [Reinsdorf] on down everyone has to sign off on it.”
We just have to keep reminding ourselves: It’s a process. It’s a process. It’s a process…
Obviously, the team isn’t pressuring Rose to return before he’s ready. Nor should they be. But they want him to play.
The Bulls have told Rose that while they will support whatever decision he makes, they would prefer he return this season, the source said, “and get it under his belt, rather than wonder all summer if he could.”
I’m sure Rose is nervous and possibly even afraid about re-injuring his surgically repaired knee. How could he not be? Remember what Rose said about the injury last summer: “Dr. [Brian] Cole, the Bulls doctor [who also performed the subsequent surgery], came up to me and told me it was torn. I couldn’t believe it. That’s the closest thing to death, the closest to death I’ve got to right there, where it just seemed like the wind and everything was taken out [of me].”
That sure seems like a healthy does of fear to me.
Regardless of when Rose actually plays, at least this is another step forward in the process.