First off, let me go ahead and get this out of the way right off the bat; the Chicago Bulls are screwed.
Granted, they may manage to get past Philadelphia in the opening round, but any hopes they had of bringing home the NBA championship crumbled alongside Derrick Rose on the United Center hardwood yesterday.
|Photo by: Tannen Maury|
Nice call, Tom Thibodeau.
But hey, Thibodeau's questionable decision to still have Rose on the floor is neither here nor there at this point. If Rose really wants someone to blame for what happened to him Saturday afternoon, he needs to look no further than the very league he plays for and represents.
When the NBA and the players union decided to jam a 66-game regular season schedule into 124 days without a full training camp or proper time to prepare, the two sides made a deal with a very specific devil.
And we're not talking the everyday sprains and bruises here either. We're talking the franchise-altering, playoff-wrecking, season-ending variety.
Don't forget, Rose's injury comes only a week or so after it was announced that Orlando's Dwight Howard would miss the remainder of the year following back surgery.
It's a theme that dominated the regular season, and is now taking over the postseason.
Rose, the defending league MVP, is gone. Howard, the league's best center -- gone. And those are just to name a few.
Chauncey Billups, a former Finals MVP as a member of the Detroit Pistons and a player helping transform the Los Angeles Clippers, is gone -- because of a torn Achilles.
Iman Shumpert, the New York Knicks impressive rookie and best perimeter defender, is gone too. He suffered an ACL tear of his own yesterday.
Teammate Jeremy Lin, who was the best story in the league at one point this season, is still trying to comeback from knee surgery.
Al Horford, the two-time All-Star center of the Atlanta Hawks, still isn't back after missing most of the year with a torn pectoral muscle.
Dwyane Wade. Amar'e Stoudemire. Manu Ginobili. Zach Randolph. All have missed substantial amounts of time over the course of the year with injuries.
The names go on and on.
Young and old, New York to California, and everywhere in between, the NBA's best are entering the arena at their own risk.
The season was rushed from the moment it tipped off Christmas Day, with the players paying a price that could impact the league for years to come.
What if Rose and Howard need a second season to fully recover?
Yeah. Last I checked, having two of your league's brightest stars missing tons of playing time wasn't exactly a positive for attendance and television ratings.
The way this season's gone, the only question is -- who might be helped off, carried off, or carted off, next?
Commissioner David Stern and the rest of the league's front office suits are all holding their collective breath at this very moment.
So NBA fans -- don't expect to see guys the likes of LeBron, Kobe, Durant or Nowitzki playing in garbage time again anytime soon.
Not if their coaches actually know what's good for them, anyway.