The past three years have had Chicago fans holding their breath — especially during every second point guard Derrick Rose was on the court.
The Bulls’ first game of the 2015 NBA Playoffs was no different. This was Rose’s first game back in the Playoffs since the dreadful Game One in 2012 — a game Chicago fans like to forget.
To dredge up painful memories, it was late in the fourth quarter when Rose went down, jumping off his left foot while in the paint. You could hear a pin drop in the United Center. It was quieter at that moment than when the building is completely empty. Hours later, it was confirmed that Rose tore his ACL, and the rest is history.
Three years later, Rose laced up his red, white and gray D-Rose sneakers and was back on the court of the United Center, wearing the same No. 1 white jersey. He was ready to return.
His first bucket came three minutes into the game, invigorating Chicago fans. But Rose wasn’t stopping there.
With just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Rose slammed down a two-handed rim rattler that was worthy of a SportsCenter Top 10 nomination. In the next possession, Rose drove up the lane to lay it in, in similar fashion to the Rose of old. Almost immediately, Rose was sent back to the bench because of his limited minutes, and did something completely out of character: show emotion to the fans.
Halfway through the third quarter, it was the D. Rose show. He drained back-to-back three pointers. Two and a half minutes later, Jimmy Butler dished a pass to an open Rose, who subsequently nailed another three-pointer.
By the time it was all said and done, Rose notched 23 points and seven assists in 27 minutes of play. What’s spooky? Rose put up an eerily similar stat line in the 2012 game: 23 points and nine assists in 37 minutes of play.
Derrick Rose will never be the Derrick Rose of old. He may show flashes of the player he used to be, but he plays a different game now. He’s less aggressive on the floor; he’s not as flashy as he once was. He’s older now and has the scars that tell his past.
After the game Saturday, Rose said, “I only had three expectations: to have fun, to have no expectations and to compete.”
Chicago fans will probably never be able to rest easy when it comes to Rose. Every time he falls down for the rest of his career, Benny the Bull will still cover his eyes, and the Chicago faithful will still continue to hold its breath.
— Edited by Lane Cofas