Commentary: Ring around the return of Derrick Rose

The days of sitting back and watching the Adidas-sponsored commercials entitled “The Return of Derrick Rose” are over.

More than a year has passed since the superstar guard suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the first round of the 2011-2012 playoffs against the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls’ loss against the Miami Heat marked Rose’s first appearance in a game since his injury. Three games into the season, the Bulls still find themselves establishing their identity with the return of their leader.

Rose returns to a relatively familiar Bulls squad featuring perennial All-Stars Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng, followed by a strong supporting cast. Despite the absence of Rose, the Chicago Bulls managed to pull off 45 regular season wins and move past the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. With that said, aspirations are high not only for players and team management but also for fans.

Rose’s return is more than just news. Rather, it is the continuation of a story: the story of a boy who became a man, and ultimately evolved into Chicago’s hometown hero, all in the face of adversity.

During his first four years, Rose transformed the Bulls back into a winning culture. The former number-one pick earned the Rookie of the Year award, three All-Star appearances and even an MVP award as his growth translated to on-thecourt success.

However, for the first time last season, some people’s perception of Rose began to change. The Bulls’ star faced national criticism for not returning for the latter half of the season despite recovering from his brutal ACL tear. Rose stood strong with his decision to sit out the remaining part of the season, valuing his long-term health.

In addition, Rose welcomed the critics. Entering his fifth season, Rose stated in an interview with ESPN that he “feels better than ever.” His explosiveness and versatility was put on display as he led the Bulls to an undefeated preseason record. One of the biggest changes to Rose’s game was seen through his long distance jump shot as he shot an effective 60 percent from the three-point line in eight preseason games.

Moreover, the addition of a threepoint shot creates an increasing challenge for defenders. Rose has the potential to beat the defender off the drive, the pick and roll, and the three. Surrounded by a starting five that features three other All- Stars, Rose has the potential to lead the Bulls to compete for a top three spot in the East. Indiana and Miami look to be Chicago’s biggest challenge within the conference. Despite being outplayed in a lopsided loss to the Miami Heat Monday night, the Bulls still have the potential to take down the defending champions.

The long awaited return of Chicago’s hero was spoiled. Rose displayed his usual burst of speed with a few nice finishes around the rim. However, bad passing decisions and poor shooting resulted in a disappointing show. Rust was evident within his play.

“Through three games, Rose has been very effective in his attack to the rim,” freshman Drew Britton said. “Yet, he has been forcing the ball and making bad decisions. His shooting looks as if it continues to improve as he gets his legs stronger.”

Additionally, Monday night’s loss also marked the return of All-Star center Joakim Noah as he was held out of the preseason with a groin injury. Noah struggled as he was held to a mere two points in twenty minutes of action. As the rust wears off and time passes, Rose and Noah should work themselves back into form.

Sophomore Ricky Razo agrees.

“Give him a few games and he’ll be back to his 2010 form,” Razo said. “He has the potential to return to a MVP-caliber season.”

Chicago, however, has beaten the Heat the most of any team since Lebron James’ arrival in Miami. A deeper and more mature Chicago team does have the potential to take down opponents such as Miami and Indiana.

The Bulls will only go as far as Rose takes them. What the future holds is unknown, although one thing is for sure: Rose will sustain his electrifying style of play as he continues in his attempt of bringing home a championship to the city that watched him stumble time and time again, only to get up and defeat the odds.