- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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That feeling isn't going away: that feeling fans have every time Derrick Rose jumps, every time he makes a cut. And that "every time" -- like Tuesday, when he has some soreness in his knee and he can't practice -- isn't going to go away for a long time.
It's in the pit of most fans' stomachs because of recent history. That's because Rose has barely been on the floor the past few years. Forty-nine games in the last three seasons, to be precise, and just 10 in the last two because of two serious knee injuries. After all the rave reviews in regards to Rose's performance the past few weeks, Tuesday was a sobering reminder about the uncertainty of Rose's future.
While medical experts -- and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau -- have all said that soreness is a normal reaction as Rose returns from the torn medial meniscus in his right knee from last November and the torn ACL in his left knee from over two years ago, it's still a sobering thought for fans to think that Rose's status will perpetually be day-to-day for the foreseeable future.
But that's the reality of the situation. Rose, and the Bulls' training staff, have put an inordinate amount of time into keeping his body in the best shape possible as he attempts this latest comeback. Bulls director of sports performance Jen Swanson has been at Rose's side during trips to Las Vegas and Chicago with Team USA. Rose has talked openly about how much better he is at taking care of his body at this point in his career.
"It's totally different," Rose said on July 30 in Las Vegas of his new routine. "Waking up making sure that I'm hydrated, drinking six to eight bottles of water every day. Things that I thought I would never do: eating, taking supplements, just for my blood flow, just everything. Stretching at night, using a band, using a roller, just becoming a professional.
"When I remember being in my rookie year and I used to see all the older players stretching and using trainers to stretch them I didn't think nothing about it. But now I'm kind of mad because I didn't take advantage of it when I was younger. Whenever I talk to these younger players, I try to tell them, get the maintenance on your body. Get massages. Make sure you're always getting treatment, because you're going to need it for this long career."
Rose still expects to have a long career and has prepared his body for the grind of many NBA seasons, but nobody knows whether his body will be able to hold up this season and beyond. That uncertainty hovers over Team USA, the Bulls and the city of Chicago, and it's part of what makes this Rose comeback so compelling. Every day is a new story, a new chance for Rose to take another step forward and prove again he is one of the best basketball players in the world.
Nervousness will be the prevailing emotion until Rose can prove he can stay healthy for an entire season. Until then, every move he makes will be watched with more trepidation than excitement, a sad twist given how much joy Rose's game has the ability to provide if his body will allow him to stay on the floor this season.
8hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
14hMatt Walks, ESPN.com