Rose needs to toughen up, get back on the court

By Mubarak Salami

When healthy, Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose is an unbelievable talent — arguably one of the top-five players in the NBA.

The key words, however, are when healthy. For the past two years, Rose has been anything but that.

Prior to this season, Rose had played only 10 games out of 162 regular season games. Already in this short season, Rose has missed four games due to minor injuries to both his ankles.

What is most disappointing about Rose’s continuous injuries is his inability to play through them.

Sure, injuries are a part of the game, but when you are just a little banged up or are able to play through the pain, you should be out on the floor. Minor aches and bruises should not keep players off the floor on a consistent basis.

Now, I’m not saying Rose should play no matter what his injury is, consequently risking the longevity of his career as well as the Bulls’ franchise. What I am saying is as a Bulls’ fan, I need to see more out of him on the court.

It’s no secret that Rose is the key to the Bulls’ season. If they want any shot at being a serious championship contender this year or in the near future, Rose needs to be playing at his best.

Rose’s teammates have played through pain in the past, so why can’t he?

Center Joakim Noah has been playing through plantar fasciitis in his right foot the past few seasons. Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that affects the heel of one’s foot due to ligament damage to the foot’s plantar fascia. Not only has Noah played through the pain, he has done so at an extremely high level, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and being named to the NBA All-First Team a year ago.

Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler is another Chicago Bull who is playing despite not being completely healthy. Butler sprained his left thumb late in the preseason and was expected to miss the first week of the season. However, Butler has fought through this pain and has only missed one game this year. He is a key reason for Chicago’s early season success.

I hope Rose is taking note.

By constantly missing time, Rose is hurting his team. The sporadic insertion and removal of Rose in the lineup causes the team’s rhythm and chemistry to be totally out of sync. With several key additions, the team needs time to mesh together but cannot do so if the most important player is always on the bench.

Two years ago, after Rose tore his ACL for the first time, he was declared ready to play by doctors, right around the start of the playoffs. For whatever reason, Rose decided not to come back, leaving his teammates and his city hopeless. This was the first time he had done so, but it was just the beginning.

While I will never understand the wear and tear put on the body of a professional athlete or the day-to-day grind of the NBA, I do understand the concept of responsibility.

I understand that as the superstar of your team, the most integral part of your teammates’ success, it is your responsibility to be on the court when you can.

Rose cannot continue to force his teammates to carry the load when the team is built around him. It’s not fair to the team, the fans or the city of Chicago.

It’s very simple: When Rose is on the floor, he is magical. The Bulls are magical. The United Center is magical.

I just hope him being on the court becomes as simple as it sounds.

Mubarak is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at msalami2@dailyillini.com and on Twitter @justmubar.