Derrick Rose planted his left foot and "heard something pop."That something was the Bulls' title chances.
I'm neither a Bulls fan nor a Bulls hater, but I hate this. I hate that Rose's season had to end this way. And I hate that a Bulls team that was good enough to win it all now has little hope to do so.
Like life itself, sports ain't fair.
Ask the Carolina Tar Heels, who lost their point guard just as they were starting to look like a championship team. Ask Peyton Manning's Colts, who learned this past season about the fragile line between being a title contender and a laughingstock. Ask any team that thought it had a legitimate chance at a special season only to see it blown apart by an injury to a star player.
And Rose wasn't just another star. In a league of great point guards, he was the best last season. Hell, he was the best player at any position, easily winning the MVP. This season, the Bulls built a team around him that was ready to go for the gold. Even though he had to miss a couple dozen games nursing a variety of injuries, I thought the Bulls would be OK because, unlike many players during this compressed season, he would be relatively fresh for the playoffs.
With 23 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, Rose looked plenty fresh (albeit a little rusty) in Saturday's dismantling of the 76ers. But with less than a minute and a half to go, his knee gave out. Torn ACL. Season over.
The Bulls did amazingly well when playing without Rose this season, but let's be real. There's a reason C.J. Watson and John Lucas III have been backups their entire careers.
After beating the Sixers, the Bulls will have a difficult time in the next round against either the Celtics or Hawks. And if they somehow survive that series, their luck surely will run out against the Heat in the Eastern finals.
And that's a damn shame.
With Derrick Rose, the Bulls were good enough to send LeBron and D-Wade packing.
Without him, they're just another team destined to end its season with a question that starts with the words "What" and "if."