Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls

Rose sits out against Warriors

Bulls take cautious approach to injury with focus on long-term health

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By Sam Smith | 11.20.2015 | 5:40 p.m.

When in the course of basketball events it becomes necessary for a player to dissolve the beliefs he’s lived by and the laws of the game, it becomes necessary to declare what impelled him to the separation.

Derrick Rose holds these truths to be self-evident, that it’s no longer time to sacrifice reason and good sense in the name of machismo; it’s no longer good sense to put unnecessary risk above long term goals.

Derrick Rose deserves the ability to pursue happiness, which means a long and productive basketball career.

Which is the best thing for his team, as well.

It wasn’t quite the first reading of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. But at a tony athletic club on Nob Hill in San Francisco after a light morning practice before Friday's game with the Golden State Warriors, Rose effectively and subtly declared his priority has to be long term welfare over any individual game.

“Not yet,” Rose said when asked if he’d play Friday following his ankle sprain earlier this week. “Big game tonight; of course. I would love to play in it. But have to be smart about what I have going on and deal with the reality.

“I feel my body is a little bit different,” said Rose. “If I’m not close to 100 percent, I overthink a lot of things and overcompensate on a lot of things; that’s just my body type. It’s very hard (to miss this game); if it weren’t this injury or if it were something else, I would have played.

"This is kind of slowing me down a little bit and I want to be right."

“Because of what previously has happened and dealing with the injury, if I was to go out there and play I wouldn’t be playing the game I normally play,” said Rose. “It would be half of what I can do on the court and playing against them that’s not what I want to do.”

Fireworks don’t always go off when something significant occurs; it didn’t when those American founders created their famous document; it took many years before the significance was truly accepted worldwide. Similarly with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. You’d like someone to help you realize when something is significant.

But these quiet comments from Rose over about three minutes as teammates were leaving the basketball court and Rose was packing his bag suggested a philosophy that hopefully guides Rose to a long career. That Rose is not playing—and it’s just a second game off as Rose said he hopes to play Tuesday in Portland—is likely more where the injury occurred. It’s not a knee, but it’s close.

Here’s a player who’s had three major knee surgeries that affected and could have ended his career.

Though there have been questions raised before about whether Rose returned from injury to play soon enough, the narrative that he was avoiding a return has mostly been invalidated by the number of players who have been unable to return to form after ACL surgery.

Plus, Rose added a pair of meniscus surgeries to that.

Though he doesn’t articulate those fears, it had to be obvious that his career was in danger. More so for a player who makes a difference with his speed and quickness. Yes, the legs.

Rose was having a breakout game of sorts earlier this week against Indiana with 23 points and six assists when he sprained the ankle late in the game. It wasn’t a serious sprain, obviously. But the Bulls for too long have been playing through these sorts of “minor” injuries. Sometimes they heal and a player improves. Other times they have led to other injuries.

Remember, before Rose had his ACL injury in the playoffs in 2012, he had seven injuries that season, all lower body, and kept coming back from each only to be hurt again. And then the major injury that changed the arc of his career.

Rose has obviously had plenty of time to evaluate what he could or should or might have done differently; he never asks “Why me?” publicly. But those thought have to go through the mind of anyone who has had multiple setbacks. But at some point what a person does is come up with a strategy for avoiding misfortune.

After all, Rose is a basketball player. A basketball player most needs good health and strong legs.

Rose is 27 now; he’s no longer the comfortable kid. He wants still to have a long career; the Bulls’ long term success depends on it as well. It seems apparent a course of action has been chosen, a declaration of health and welfare.

“I was able to move around a lot more than the previous days after I injured it,” said Rose “I’m heading in the right direction. (Before) Portland we have a couple of days to just to move around; I have a couple of days to move around, really test it before I get back out there on the court.

‘Cutting and playing defense (is the issue now),” said Rose. “Even on this trip you are playing against teams that like to attack, like to get in the open court; I want to be able to defend people in transition and play my type of game on the offensive end.

“I wasn’t able to shoot the last couple of days because I wasn’t able to move around the way I wanted to,” said Rose. “But today, tonight, I’ll be on the court shooting, just trying to get my body right.

“(The vision is) still the same,” said Rose. “The frustrating thing about it is the last time I played I had a good game and you kind of want to build off of good games. And for me not to have the opportunity to play because of an ankle injury is frustrating. It’s reality; I have to deal with it and I’ll be back soon.”

As for the 13-0 Warriors, whom Rose’s shot beat last January in a Bulls overtime win in Oakland, Rose said, “You have to put pressure on them as far as attacking, making them play defense; the same as they put pressure on you, making them pay for some of the shots they take.

“Curry, he’s amazing,” Rose marveled. “He’s playing great basketball. He pushes not only me but the whole league to work on their game; the way he’s been working, focused, the system he’s playing, I think he’s pushing the entire league.

“Jimmy (Butler) is up for the challenge,” Rose said of the Bulls high scorer and top defender. “The way he came in today seemed like he was focused. You’ve got to be willing to take the challenge on in your own little way.

But guarding him and scoring is a team effort playing against them.”

We know from Rose’s past he builds up for these games against the top teams and guards as he has already this season against the Cavaliers and Thunder.

Rose seems to be making his own declaration against tyranny and misfortune of injury. It’s time for a healthier, more responsible and careful long term view for the best interests of everyone.