Taj Gibson Following the Derrick Rose Plan with Latest Ankle Injury

PORTLAND, Ore. — Taj Gibson is no stranger to ankle sprains, but the walking boot he was wearing in the Chicago Bulls’ locker room on Friday night was an unfamiliar sight.

“I didn’t even want to wear crutches,” he laughed. “Doctor’s orders.”

Gibson re-injured his left ankle midway through the third quarter of the Bulls’ 105-87 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. It was the same ankle he sprained against the Cleveland Cavaliers in October, although this one came at a much more inopportune time.

Midway through a seven-game road trip, the Bulls are without two starters (Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol) and two vital bench contributors (Gibson and Kirk Hinrich). And although Gibson has been known throughout his six-year career as one of the toughest players in the NBA, someone who has played through injuries year after year, he might not be back on the court for a while.

“I have to just be smart,” Gibson said. “I have to really get it strong. It hurts my athleticism, not being able to do certain things. I have to just be smart, try to get healthy and be there for my teammates. But it’s frustrating. Everyone knows how I am. It takes a lot to have me sit out.”

If his words sound familiar, it’s because they’ve been heard often from another voice in the Bulls’ locker room. Rose has battled serious knee injuries for two consecutive seasons and is currently sitting out with a strained left hamstring, and throughout his conservative treatment plan, his mantra has been the same: Just be smart.

Rose was one of the first people Gibson spoke to Friday night after returning to the Bulls’ locker room, and he’s going to follow the former MVP’s lead in taking his time coming back from this injury.

“Derrick asked me, ‘Is it the same ankle you hurt before?’” Gibson said. “And I said yeah. And he was saying to me, ‘You’ve got to be patient. You’ve got to stay on top of that. It’s a long year. You can’t sprint to the finish.’”

It’s an approach that’s alien to Gibson, who is just starting to come around to the idea that his long-term outlook is more important than playing tomorrow or the next day.

“I have to stop trying to run back out there, stop trying to play through these things,” he said. “We have a long season. But it’s just the dog in me that always wants to be out there and play. I have to learn from this.”

Meanwhile, as the injuries keep piling up, the schedule isn’t slowing down for the Bulls. This is far from their first time playing shorthanded. But considering how well they’ve played in the handful of games where they have had everyone healthy, it’s hard not to get frustrated at the constant parade of setbacks.

“It sucks that guys get hurt,” said Joakim Noah. “But you’ve got to keep moving forward because the games keep coming. Nobody feels sorry for you, so you’ve got to keep going and keep getting better. Hopefully Taj will be alright.”

With so many of their most important players out, it’s unclear what the rest of the rotation will look like. Rose, Gasol and Hinrich are all day-to-day, but with the high-altitude Utah-Denver back-to-back next on the schedule, followed by a trip back east to play the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, it’s not likely any of them will return this week.

The Bulls’ front office may look to fill the final roster spot if the injuries linger, but this is going to be a challenging stretch either way. There’s going to be a lot of Tony Snell and a lot of E’Twaun Moore in the rotation. Even 16-year veteran Nazr Mohammed, who was signed strictly as a veteran locker-room presence, got first-quarter minutes on Friday.

It will be a valuable learning experience for the Bulls’ younger players, but that will also likely mean some ugly wins and even uglier losses.

The next two weeks are going to look a lot like the Bulls’ last two years, scrapping for wins short-handed and relying on toughness to push through. At least this time, none of their stars’ injuries are career-threatening. 

Gibson hopes to keep it that way, which is why he’s taking a page from Rose’s book.

“I’ve got to trust the doctors and do this the right way, instead of just saying ‘patch me up, coach’ and throw me back out there.”

 

Sean Highkin covers the Chicago Bulls for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @highkin

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Bulls Injury Update: Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, & Kirk Hinrich out for tonight’s game vs. Blazers

The reeling Chicago Bulls will be without one more player tonight as their annual Circus Trip continues. Guard Kirk Hinrich joins Derrick Rose & Pau Gasol on the sidelines for tonight’s game in Portland, per the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson.Hinrich, Gasol and Rose all out vs. Portland.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) November 21, 2014Hinrich is sitting out with a chest contusion, suffered in Thursday night’s loss to the Sacramento Kings after he took a charge from Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. Hinrich had x-rays after the game that came back negative, according to ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell.For Derrick Rose, tonight’s game marks the fourth straight contest he will sit out after suffering a strained left hamstring November 13th versus the Toronto Raptors. Pau Gasol has missed every game of the Circus Trip that began on Monday due to a strained left calf. Friedell says that Gasol was hopeful on Thursday he would be able to return quickly but is taking caution for the injury to fully heal

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Do Chicago Bulls Really Need Healthy Derrick Rose to Contend for NBA Title?

The Chicago Bulls can be a dominant two-way force without a fully healthy Derrick Rose.

But the line separating really good teams from full-fledged contenders is one Chicago can only cross with the former MVP at his best.

After getting only 49 games out of Rose the past three seasons, the Bulls have learned to live without him. Thanks to a combination of internal development and external acquisitions, they have even started to thrive in his absence.

They are 8-3 on the season, having scored four of those victories while Rose was sidelined by ankle and hamstring injuries. They are one of only four clubs—one of only two in the Eastern Conference—with top-10 rankings in both offensive (eighth) and defensive (seventh) efficiency.

Those are the tell-tale markings of an elite NBA team. The fact that those numbers have largely been compiled without Rose’s assistance highlights the tremendous depth on this roster.

“They may have two or three All-Stars minus Derrick,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, per Bleacher Report’s Josh Martin, “so they’re a good basketball team.”

And Rivers’ praise came before the Bulls, missing both Rose and Pau Gasol (calf), reeled off a double-digit road victory over the Clippers.

The Bulls have both star power and a deep supporting cast.

Gasol, the prized piece of Chicago’s offseason haul, has seamlessly transitioned into his new home. The skilled 7-footer leads the team in rebounds (10.6) and blocks (2.5), while ranking second in scoring (18.6).

Chicago’s only player pumping in more points is fourth-year swingman Jimmy Butler. The Marquette product, who is slated to hit restricted free agency at season’s end, has exploded out of the gate. He currently holds career highs in points (21.3), field-goal percentage (50.8), rebounds (6.2), assists (3.9) and player efficiency rating (22.5).

“Jimmy Butler, what can you say?” coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after Butler tallied 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds against the Clippers. “When that game was on the line he made big play after big play. He’s playing great basketball.”

Center Joakim Noah, an All-Star in each of the last two seasons, has been rounding into form after undergoing left knee surgery over the summer. Learning to play alongside a low-post weapon like Gasol has been another adjustment Noah has had to make.

The high-motor big man has dished out six assists in five straight games and grabbed 12-plus rebounds two of his last four times out. As a defensive cog and offensive catalyst, he positively impacts the game in so many different ways.

Those are Chicago’s stars. Add Rose’s name to the mix, and it becomes an embarrassment of riches.

But the supporting cast might be equally impressive.

Taj Gibson remains one of the league’s top reserves. He’s shooting a career-best 56.9 percent from the field and has matched his previous high with 13.0 points a night. His energy level on both ends of the floor is as high as it’s ever been, and his importance to Chicago’s success hasn’t diminished a bit despite all the new weapons around him.

“Taj is probably the most selfless player in the NBA,” Noah said, per Bulls.com’s Sam Smith. “A guy who is depended on all the time and never gets the credit he deserves. I appreciate everything he does. We can’t get to where we want to get to without Taj.”

Decorated rookie forward Nikola Mirotic has only found 12.1 minutes a night, which speaks volumes about this team’s talent.

Ditto for rookie sharpshooter Doug McDermott and his 12.5 minutes per game. It’s hard to find him time when veteran sniper Mike Dunleavy is converting his long-range looks at a 40.4 percent clip.

Kirk Hinrich is a pesky defender and a major three-point threat (39.5 percent). Aaron Brooks is a wildly effective scorer (19.4 points per 36 minutes on .483/.469/.789 shooting) and willing passer (6.3 assists per 36 minutes). Tony Snell adds to Chicago’s collection of shooters and provides another athletic presence on the perimeter—if he’s able to make it off the crowded bench.

With Thibodeau at the helm, the Bulls are always going to play a relentless brand of defense. And with all this added firepower, they can now frustrate their opponents on either end of the floor.

“We’re scoring a lot of different ways,” Noah said, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. “I remember when the score was 81-76, just fiending to get a basket. Now we’re scoring 100 every night. And I feel like it can get better.”

That’s where it all comes back to the 26-year-old face of the franchise.

The Bulls are showing how good they can be even when Rose isn’t a constant presence in the lineup. But greatness only comes within the realm of possibilities once he can start logging significant minutes.

“As stacked as Chicago’s roster may be,” Martin wrote, “this team would hardly have a prayer of competing for the franchise’s seventh championship without a healthy and effective Rose leading the way.”

There have already been signs of the impact Rose can make.

Individually, he has appeared understandably rusty. The career 46.0 percent shooter has hit only 43.3 percent of his attempts and just seven of his 24 threes. His 18.0 scoring average and 5.4 nightly assists trail his career numbers (20.8 and 6.7, respectively), but that decline has been a direct result of logging a career-low 28.0 minutes a night.

While Rose has had some issues with his shot, he has not had any trouble leading his team.

On the season, the Bulls have outscored their opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions. That’s good enough for the sixth-highest net efficiency rating in the league. With Rose on the floor, that number jumps to 15.4, which easily tops the Dallas Mavericks‘ top mark of plus-12.6. Without Rose, the Bulls have a plus-3.3 net rating, which would check in at 10th overall.

And for the Rose haters conspiracy theorists out there, no, Rose hasn’t planned his absences around avoiding the toughest tests. The five teams he has squared up with have a combined record of 27-31, a .466 winning percentage. The six games he missed came against clubs with a 23-43 record, only a .348 winning percentage.

Rose helps Chicago put constant pressure on a defense. He’s still lightning-quick off the dribble and a devastating finisher at the basket (career-high 68.8 percent conversion rate inside of three feet).

He was a willing passer before he had help. In 2011-12, when Rose averaged 21.8 points and no other Bull topped 15.3, he had a 40.3 assist percentage. Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who has had a wealth of scorers around him, has never done better than 39.9.

The Bulls have other weapons, but they all become more powerful when Rose is involved.

Chicago needs Rose to make a championship run. He’s a necessity, not a luxury.

That being said, the Bulls don’t need him on the floor until he’s physically and mentally ready to return. They have more than enough to keep pace in the Eastern Conference without him, especially with the Cleveland Cavaliers struggling to create any chemistry.

Chicago’s depth doesn’t make Rose expendable, it allows this team to play things as safe as it can with regard to his health.

“Everybody on the team, from subs to starters to stars, can play key roles this year,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes. “In the early going, depth and Thibodeau‘s ‘we have enough’ attitude can carry the load so the bigger names can rest and recover. As the season progresses, the rotation will shrink and the marquee players can start to take over.”

The supporting cast is growing without Rose, and he is taking every step to put himself in the best possible position.

“[I'm] just trying to do everything right,” he said, per ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell. “Eat right, hydrate right, stretch right, work on my flexibility, just trying to put everything on my side so at the end of the day I’m just trying to get better.”

It’s hard to ask for more patience from a franchise that has already spent two years waiting for his return. It’s no easier to avoid thoughts of despair every time his body forces him off the floor.

Still, there’s a chance this all works out for the better.

The Bulls are a two-way wrecking ball, destroying every team in their path regardless of who’s sitting at the controls. The pieces are in place to contend for a title. If this rest period aids Rose in his recovery and helps develop the players behind him, Chicago’s ceiling could continue to climb.

But Rose must be involved to help this team fulfill its massive potential. As has been the case for the last several years, Chicago’s success once again hinges on his health.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose health concerns

Though adjustments are constantly being made, there’s no doubt that Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose has returned to the game, averaging 18 PPG, 5.4 APG, 2.8 RPG, and 21.20 PER so far in the season. However, Rose’s limited playing time hasn’t gone unnoticed either with him having played a total of 110 minutes in the last 11 games.
In an interview with ESPN, Rose openly admitted to thinking about life after basketball as it coincided with his playing schedule; though he doesn’t understand why so many people got upset with his comments. The point guard further acknowledged that he wanted to keep his long-term health intact, especially after his two knee injuries which contributed to his 2 year absence on the court and changed his perspective on life years after his NBA career. Rose also added that he did feel bothered that so many people questioned his commitment to Chicago.
“Yeah, to a certain degree,” Rose said. “Of course it’s going to happen, but at the same time I can’t do anyth

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Who would you prefer? Chris Paul or Derrick Rose

The point guard position is considered the most pivotal position in a NBA roster.  The league is filled with numerous amount of talent in the point guard position, but I will narrow it down to two point guards: Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. Who would you favor out of the two if you had an opportunity to assemble a dynasty? Well, let’s analyze the two and see what you decide.
Throughout their luxurious careers, both Chris Paul and Derrick Rose have received nothing but high praise for their approach and commitment to the game. Acquiring several accolades through their NBA tenure, but the two are absent of one goal and that is winning a NBA title. Although both play the same position, their style of play is entirely different. They both have extraordinary talent and bring a very diverse skill set to their respective team.
Chris Paul “The Floor General”
Chis Paul: 7x All-Star
Chris Paul began his career immediately establishing himself as one of NBA’s best point guards. Paul entered the league with a hu

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Bulls News: Latest Updates on Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol Injuries and More

Chicago Bulls injury updates are almost like a rite of passage for every NBA season, and the 2014-15 campaign is no different.

Fortunately, Derrick Rose has not suffered any debilitating, long-term injuries in the early going, but he has been in and out of the lineup all year. What’s more, his new teammate Pau Gasol is dealing with a minor health issue of his own, which is concerning for a team that needs his offense.

With that in mind, read on to find out the latest from the Windy City.

 

Derrick Rose Injury

Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago passed along an update on Rose before Chicago’s showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday:

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose was not in the lineup on Monday night because of a strained left hamstring. ‘[It's] getting better every day, still taking my time,’ Rose said after Monday’s shootaround. ‘[The hamstring] is just calming down. It’s not as sore, just really trying to listen to my body again and get the most out of every day.’

Monday’s game marked the sixth time that Rose has missed action this season with hamstring or ankle problems. The latest setback came in the final minutes of a win over the Toronto Raptors when he lost his balance and fell to the floor in pain. 

Friedell passed along some more reaction from Rose:

Bulls fans are undoubtedly frustrated by the missed time from their star point guard, especially given Rose’s injury history over the past two-plus seasons. However, taking the long-term approach with any ailments, no matter how big or small, is the right path for this Bulls team.

November games against the Clippers are far less important than eventual May showdowns with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. Rose seems to understand that. 

Chicago has serious title aspirations this season, but it needs Rose healthy for that to be a realistic possibility. Resting him now and preventing any serious issues will pay dividends when the Bulls are grinding in the postseason.

 

Pau Gasol Injury 

Arash Markazi of ESPN provided an update on Gasol before Monday’s game:

It is only a strain, so there is probably not much reason to worry for Bulls fans, but Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders took the glass half-empty approach:

Much like Rose, it is best for the Bulls to err on the side of caution with Gasol. He may not have the devastating injuries in the past that Rose does, but he is 34 years old and has a lot of basketball mileage on his legs. 

What’s more, the Bulls have Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to man the paint until Gasol comes back. You could do a lot worse than a Noah-Gibson combination when fully healthy, so Chicago should be able to tread water until Gasol returns.

 

Gasol’s Free-Agency Decision Process 

With the Bulls visiting Los Angeles on Monday (for a game against the Clippers in the Staples Center), questions about Gasol’s decision to leave the Lakers were only natural. Friedell passed along the big man’s response:

It is clear that Kobe Bryant and Gasol had a close relationship, and it is no wonder that the two combined to bring championship hardware back to the Purple and Gold. However, it also wasn’t difficult to see the short-term writing on the wall when it came to the Lakers entering the 2014-15 season, and Gasol is in the stretch run of his career.

Competing for championships clearly took precedent over loyalty to the Lakers.

It remains to be seen whether he made the right choice, but it’s a fairly safe bet that Chicago is going to experience more success in the next couple of seasons than the Lakers. 

Gasol did all he could in purple and gold, and he has the jewelry to prove it. Now he wants a matching ring in a Bulls uniform.

 

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Doc Rivers: Chicago Bulls ‘May Have 2 or 3 All-Stars’ Minus Derrick Rose

LOS ANGELES — Just because Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol were in street clothes at Staples Center on Monday night doesn’t mean the Los Angeles Clippers were about to take the Chicago Bulls lightly.

“They may have two or three All-Stars minus Derrick, so they’re a good basketball team,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said at his pregame press conference.

Strange as it may seem at first blush, Rivers’ off-the-cuff math was accurate. The Bulls still had Joakim Noah, who’s been chosen for each of the past two All-Star Games, in addition to Rose and Gasol, who came into this campaign with three All-Star appearances apiece.

This wild card here is Jimmy Butler, though, at this point, you could argue that he should be suiting up for the Eastern Conference at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 15. The fourth-year shooting guard came into Monday’s action leading all players at his position in the East in points (21.3) and field-goal percentage (.533) while also ranking among the top three in rebounds (5.7) and free-throw attempts (7.8).

Not to mention his much-improved three-point shot (.391 from deep), his 2.2 combined blocks and steals or his all-around tenacious defense, the last of which earned him a spot on the NBA‘s All-Defensive second team last season.

That’s pretty good for a guy who was the last pick in the first round of what was, at the time, considered a weak 2011 NBA draft.

“He’s maybe one of the few guys ever in the draft that people got lost in how good of a kid he was and they couldn’t see how good of a player he was, which is really strange,” added Rivers, who, like Butler, played his college ball at Marquette. “And I actually thought that, in a crazy way, hurt Jimmy. No one saw the talent. I didn’t see it either. I didn’t know he was going to be this good.”

Chicago can take heart in the fact that he’s outpaced expectations—for now, at least. They’ll need every bit of offensive firepower they can muster until Rose’s hamstring and Gasol’s calf afford those two the opportunity to play again.

Once the 2014-15 season is through, though, the Bulls will have to pony up to keep Butler around. The 25-year-old turned down an extension offer from Chicago prior to the Oct. 31 deadline, choosing instead to take his chances in restricted free agency next summer.

“It came down to me deciding that I want to bet on myself,” Butler told Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. “It was about me believing that I put the work in this summer to become a better player with the hope that my improvement will give the Bulls a better chance to win a championship.”

So far, Butler’s doing just that, not just as another role player, but as a potential fourth All-Star in Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s arsenal.

 

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UMass’ Derrick Gordon embraces his new life out

“I feel so free now,” says Gordon, a starter for UMass with dreams of playing in the NBA.

      
 

 

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Deng, D-Wade, Understand Derrick Rose’s Plight, and the Price Paid for Playing

There’s never been cause to question Luol Deng‘s toughness. Sure, some have done so, such as when his absence during the 2013 postseason was incorrectly attributed to the flu, rather than serious complications from a spinal tap. But after twice leading the NBA in minutes per game, and proving that he’ll play with everything from a torn wrist ligament to a fractured thumb, he should be immune at this stage from any questioning of his dedication and determination. 

And he believes Derrick Rose should be, too. 

“The thing with Derrick is, I was there from his rookie year, I’ve watched him growing up,” the current Miami Heat forward told Bleacher Report. “When he first came to the league, me and Joakim [Noah] would always tell him, ‘Derrick, you can’t play tonight. You’re hurt.’ And he always wants to put the team behind him and the city behind him. And even when he was hurt, he would play. And I really believe that some of his injuries were because he would play hurt. We would tell him not to. And he was so determined and wanted to be the best he could be, not only for the team, [but] for the city. And we kept trying to tell him to understand, like, ‘Look, there’s a difference between pain and injury.’ And I think now after two injuries, he’s being smart.”

Of course, that’s not how some see it. 

Rose has come under intense criticism from fans, former players and—to a lesser degreemedia, for what he said last Tuesday after his approach to his most recent injuries. At that point, Rose had missed four of five games due to two sprained ankles and, after returning for two games, missed Saturday’s loss to Indiana due to a mild hamstring strain. 

Those comments, which you’ve likely heard or seen by now:

“I feel I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long-term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to. I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart.”

 

That sounds a lot like what Deng and Noah tried to teach him. But it sounded to some as if Rose had misplaced priorities, especially in light of his $18.9 million salary this season. 

“I think people are taking it out of context and saying, ‘What kind of guy is that?’” Deng said. “But what people don’t understand is this guy is in the gym 24/7. What he’s doing, he’s really trying. He came back last year and he wanted to play so many minutes, and that’s what led to that injury [to his other knee]. What he’s doing now is, everyone can say whatever they want to say, but in the long run, they’re gonna appreciate what he’s doing. It’s just the way he said it didn’t sound right. But when he meant is, I want to be there for my team down the stretch, that’s really what it is.”

That’s why Deng got really steamed Thursday night, while viewing the TNT studio show, from his nearby hotel room in Atlanta.

Charles Barkley called Rose “a great player and a great kid…but that was stupid. We’re so blessed. I limp around but I go home to a big ol’ mansion. There are people that work harder than Derrick Rose that go home to a shack. There are consequences for what we do for a living. We’ve got the best life in the world….Derrick Rose is making $20 million a year and he’s got a couple of bad knees. There are pros and cons of what we do for a living.”

Barkley played as many as 75 games in just seven of his 16 seasons. Shaquille O’Neal played that many in just five of his 19 seasons (though he did play 49 of 50 games in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season). Yet O’Neal added this: “I was taught that if you could walk, you could play. You see how Kevin McHale walks now, how Phil Jackson walks now, how Charles [Barkley] and I walk…but it was worth it. When you make comments like that, it makes you look soft…but he can only be himself. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.” 

Deng felt a strong emotion while he watched. 

“It upset me to see that, because what that kid represents, especially for today’s athlete, is a blessing,” Deng said. “It’s so sad to see someone attacking someone like that. I was really pissed. As a friend, it really bothered me a lot when I was watching TNT, and what some of the people were saying. But honestly, he’s an example of how a lot of kids should be. Someone who puts home first, works so hard and is so humble. And to do that to him is really destroying his identity and what he stands for.” 

So perhaps it’s a generational thing. Or perhaps there’s some revisionist history.

But when it comes to current players thinking about post-basketball life, Deng believes that, “of course every player does.” That includes himself.   

“I’m smart enough to know when I can go and when I can’t go,” Deng said. “Every player knows that. It’s just [that] Derrick said it. So everyone is on him. But if you guys want to take a survey and ask the league, if I don’t feel right, I’m not gonna play. If I feel like I could play, I can play. Now, my 80 percent is different from your 80 percent, we’re all different human beings. People want to praise us, and praise Derrick, when he plays hurt, but then when he has a big injury and then sits out, it’s like, yeah, but why did you that? So really he can’t win.”

Is Deng correct?

Is every current player thinking about the future.

We couldn’t get to all of them in a couple of days, but spoke to a few who have endured significant injuries or ailments over the course of their careers. 

Atlanta’s Al Horford, for instance, has played a total of just 38 games over the past two seasons due to tearing his left, and then right, pectoral muscles. He said that both times, he’s just been “focused on the now,” on going through physical therapy and getting back on the court. “I guess I never thought about down the road,” Horford said. 

Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao has had a terrible run of luck, missing 149 games over the past three seasons. “But the one that scared me the most was pulmonary embellism,” Varejao said of the blood clot in his lung that cut his 2012-13 season short after 25 games. “There was risk there for me to die. Everything else that I had, they were like freak injuries. My hand, my ankle, my quad. So I knew that I was going to rehab and be fine.” 

So none of the joint or muscle issues got him thinking about troubles in later life?

“Not me,” Varejao said. “No.” 

Mike Miller’s bodily woes were well-documented while he was in Miami. There always seemed to be something, from a concussion to two damaged thumbs to a chronically sore shoulder to a bad back that threatened his career. He says, even in the worst of the back problems, he didn’t think much about how it would impact his non-athletic future. 

“But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t sometimes,” said Miller, who is now with Cleveland. “I don’t know the right answer on that one. For me, it was getting through the process. Mine was a little different, though, too. It was the end of the year. He’s six games in. There’s different ways you can slice that one. He’s getting [killed] on that one, huh?”

He is. 

Sliced and diced. 

Dwyane Wade has been similarly carved when he’s missed time, though he has said something similar to what Rose did, about basing his availability in part on the post-basketball effects. Nor had he heard Rose’s comments when Bleacher Report relayed them to him last week. 

Still, he offered plenty of perspective.

“People who have never been injured, really seriously injured, where it could be career-changing, they don’t understand what D-Rose’s mental [state] is, when he said that,” Wade said. “I mean, I’m sure a lot of people who have picked what he said apart and had a lot of things to say, but if you’ve never been really injured and it’s been career-changing for you, then you don’t know the mentality that he’s going through. From what I get from it, he’s not saying that he doesn’t care about the game and he doesn’t want to be out there in the moment. But he’s also saying that he has to make smart decisions for his body.”

Has he considered the long-term impact of what he’s endured?

“Yeah,” Wade said. “Yeah. I’ve thought about it many times.”

But not necessarily about his knees, as you’d expect.

“When I messed my shoulder up (in 2007 in Houston), that changed a lot of things in my life, just thinking about the future,” Wade said. “So, yeah, you think about those things. You don’t know what’s going to happen afterwards. You understand this sport is very physical and it’s going to take a toll on your body. But yeah, you think about it.”

And, at times, he has played like a football player.

“Yeah, at times I do,” Wade said. “Not as much anymore. But the good thing about all my things is it hasn’t been major, major from that standpoint. You know, a lot of things I’ve dealt with the last couple of years have been things that there’s no further damage that [could be] that bad.” 

On every NBA roster, there are multiple players who have been significantly affected by injuries. Before hurting his knee, Danny Granger was the face of the Indiana Pacers franchise. Now, after a mid-season trade to Philadelphia and a short stint with the Los Angeles Clippers, he’s trying to revive his career as a role player for Miami. While he said that his specific injuries haven’t caused him to dwell too much on their long-term impact, he added that, “I think my situation was a little different than what D-Rose is going through. You don’t know what the doctors have told him.”

It may be very different from what Granger heard, during his process of recovery. 

“It wasn’t like my cartilage was gone,” Granger said. “So they never really told me, this will hinder you in the future. Everybody got different circumstances. Mine was just a long recovery. So [the long-term consequences] never crossed my mind. Now, did it cross my mind if I would ever be able to play again if it didn’t heal properly? Yeah, that did, 100 percent. But as far as after basketball, I’ve already come to terms with that I’m going to have a few messed up joints. We all do. It’s inevitable. When you finish playing, something’s going to be hurting. It’s just inevitable. It’s the price we pay. You see all the former players, somebody got a back problem, somebody got a knee problem, it’s inevitable, it comes with the territory, it comes with a price.”

Taking time off also comes with one: pressure from the public. But Granger said he never felt pressure from the Indiana training staff, and that allowed him to block out any of the noise from the outside. He also consulted with other players, who told him that he could only do what his body allowed. ”All the people on the outside don’t understand that,” Granger said. “You’re really at the mercy of your body. You can try as hard you want, and be as tough as you want, but if your knee or your shoulder or your back say no, they’re gonna say no.” 

And, then, people are gonna say what they’re gonna say.

But Granger, like Deng, says he “100 percent” got what Rose was getting at. 

“One thing that people don’t understand about athletes is we retire relatively young compared to the normal person,” Granger said. “And I can understand what he’s saying, because everything we’re putting our bodies through right now—yeah, we’re well-compensated for it—but if you’re an NBA player and you retire at 35, you’ve had a great career. And you’re still a really, really young man. You’ve got kids to raise. You want to play with them and do things with them. I’ve got one former teammate, a good friend of mine, he’s not even 40 yet, and he says that sometimes he sold his soul for money because he can’t even pick up his kids, because his back is so messed up. That’s the part that people don’t see, don’t hear about.”

He also noted how McHale walks, but in a different context than Barkley did.

“You’ve got a lot of players like that,” Granger said. “That’s the side that people don’t see. They kind of want us to just shut up about it: ‘Hey, shut up, you make a lot of money.’ But I understand Derrick’s point, you know. You got a long life to live.”

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @EthanJSkolnick

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To say that Derrick Rose has been snakebit in his attempt to return to NBA action for the 2014-15 season would be a tremendous disservice to the word “snakebit.” After undergoing two major knee surgeries in the past two seasons, it was the hope that Rose’s comeback this season would go off without a hitch….Read More
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