Instead of bashing Derrick Rose, let's ponder whether the Bulls' real shot-callers are putting their players in danger, FOXSports.com's Jason Whitlock says.
By Jason Whitlock FoxSports
So the kid who survived the South Side of Chicago, one of America’s harshest urban battlegrounds, is now a wimp. Yeah, the kid who learned the game getting bullied and beat up by three older, basketball-playing brothers has grown soft at the tender age of 24.
I ain’t buying it. No way. Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood swallows cowards for snacks, shortly before they complete puberty.
Rather than question Derrick Rose’s toughness maybe we should question the competence of the people running the Chicago Bulls, particularly team doctor Brian Cole, team trainer Fred Tedeschi, head coach Tom Thibodeau, executive vice president John Paxson and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
Maybe, just maybe, we should analyze, scrutinize and demonize the old white guys in charge of the most injury-riddled franchise in the NBA playoffs rather than the young black kid who may be a victim of their collective incompetence.
Let’s see. Joakim Noah is hobbling around with plantar fasciitis. Kirk Hinrich is sitting with a bruised left calf. Luol Deng is out with an infection after a spinal tap to determine if he had viral meningitis went wrong. Taj Gibson is ill. Nate Robinson was throwing up on the sideline in the Brooklyn series. Rip Hamilton has been in and out of the lineup all season with an assortment of ailments and injuries.
Yep, let’s go with the easy narrative — the Bulls are the gutsiest team of warriors since Seal Team 6. This is Zero Dark Windy City, and Noah symbolizes everything we love and respect about Chicago. Michael and Oprah notwithstanding, this blue-collar city isn’t really about superstars. It’s about the men and women who trudge to work every day through rain, sleet, snow and soaring summer humidity.
Or maybe the Bulls are exploited union workers tolling for a group of greedy idiots who don’t know how to properly manage talent. Maybe the Bulls are injury-riddled because Thibodeau pushes them too hard, makes his available players play too many minutes in pursuit of cementing his “legend” as the coach who gets the most out of the least.
Maybe Brian Cole, the team doctor, is completely incompetent. SB Nation’s Tom Ziller pointed out Wednesday morning that Cole let Omer Asik play two years ago with a broken leg and last year wanted Deng to play with a severe stress fracture that required four months of total rest. Ziller also reminded readers that Rose played all of last season with a wide variety of injuries that finally culminated with a torn ACL in the first round of the playoffs.
Coaches love to say that fatigue creates cowards. Fatigue also creates injuries and illness. And mishandled injuries and illness create distrust.
Derrick Rose doesn’t trust the Bulls. Should he?
Should Rose trust the Bulls the way Tim Duncan trusts the Spurs? Hell no.
Gregg Popovich and the Spurs have gone above and beyond trying to protect and pamper their superstar players. Popovich gives the finger to the NBA’s 82-game schedule and regularly sits his stars and carefully monitors their minutes.
Thibodeau is the anti-Popovich. He pushes his players to the brink and he’s celebrated for it. Jimmy Butler has played all 48 minutes in three straight games. He can rest during the offseason or when he seriously injures himself and can’t play.
The Bulls are a nice story. You can’t help but be inspired by their grit and determination. Their Game 1 playoff victory over Miami and Game 7 victory over Brooklyn are the kind of efforts that made Willis Reed and Michael Jordan famous. We love those stories. We’d love the Chicago story even more if Rose would take part in it.
But we don’t need for Rose to be a villain and a coward to properly appreciate Noah’s heroism. The villains are more than likely the guys who always wear a suit. They tossed away their medical credibility with the way they handled previous injuries.
There isn’t one piece of supporting evidence that Derrick Rose is a wimp or someone interested in shirking his leadership responsibility. There’s plenty of evidence the Bulls don’t know how to manage the health of their players.
Let’s talk about that Wednesday night as the Bulls take on the Miami Heat.