Derrick Rose: Ready for Primetime When Bulls Ready for Primetime.

I had dinner this week with a particularly attractive object of my desires but had the misfortune of being seated with a direct line of sight over her right shoulder at a large screen showing the Bulls-Sacramento game.  As I tried to actively listen to everything she had to say, I couldn’t help but notice that as her salad was placed in front of her the Bulls were down by 30+ points.  I don’t really care who the Bulls are facing but to be losing by that much is really discouraging.  Clearly they weren’t even in the game.  Their B-game didn’t warrant being on the court.  It was more than a waste of time, and they suffered no small amount of disprespect in the process.  I’m sure the post-game locker room experience was not particularly pleasing.  All that remained was that empty feeling to hopefully motivate them to bring a lot more to the next game.  When she passed on dessert in deference to an apparent migraine and my distracted attention, I realized that I was no mere specatator to the Bulls’ misfortune.  I got crushed as well and completely, deservedly so.  I suppose I can rationalize my poor performance by thinking that I’m in pretty good company with the Bulls, right?  No, I really need to step it up if I want to get anywhere worthwhile.

Derrick Rose has been cleared by all doctors to return to action whenever he sees fit, and as far as I can tell he is taking his sweet time figuring out when it will be in his best interest to return.  As I watch him do his pregame rituals and warmups, I realize how badly each game compares to Rose’s pregame workout.  As Rose drives to the basket to accomplish something that means absolutely nothing, I delude myself into thinking that tonight’s the night that he’s coming back to take the Bulls to the highest of highs.  Clearly, I am riding a denial train that’s not stopping anytime soon..

Spoiler Alert: I have a cynical thoughts on Derrick Rose and the NBA season right now.  As the top eight teams jockey for position to avoid Miami at all costs, it occurs to me that a lot of teams have the same agenda, which leads me to my perpetual sense that the regular season is an obsolete marathon in which everyone is cheating.  It’s like going into the ACT with the hope that if I just score high enough then I can get into the school of my choice.  I don’t need to score any more or to work to get better grades.  If my future hinges on getting an ACT score of 20, then why shoot for 25?  Tough analogy I know (particularly for me, noting that I’m pushing thirty and look where I am), but stick with me here as I lead you to tainted water.

The goal of every team in the Eastern Conference is to get out of the first round and not have to see Miami in the conference semifinals. The Chicago Bulls currently sit 14.5 games back of Miami and tied with two other teams for three spots. This is what makes me so mad about the NBA as a whole; teams appear to my small mind to be purposefully positioning themselves by tanking games so they get favorable matchups. It happens all the time in the final week of the NFL season (and the pool round of Olympics’ badminton), but there’s still a month to go in the NBA season.  Teams shouldn’t be motivated to lose games just so they avoid another team in the playoffs.  I shouldn’t be thinking I smell even a whiff of it.  I mean, really, does anyone really think the Bulls are interested in climbing the standings to fourth?  No, the Bulls and Celtics seem more motivated to position themselves for deep conference playoff runs. They don’t care if they’re on the road for swing games, they’re veteran-laden teams who know when it’s time to turn it on.  Under this (admittedly pathetic) line of thinking, Derrick Rose will come back this year but not until April and right before the playoffs to test his injured ACL and then Chicago will really start to turn it on.  The NBA’s March is equivalent to the MLB’s dog days of August. Teams are tired and they just want to get the season over with.

Derrick Rose hasn’t played in nearly a year, but Adrian Peterson came back after six months in a sport at least as brutal on the body.  And if Rose has been cleared to play subject only to his own judgment, then his disinclination to adjudge himself ready has nothing to do with what I’m witnessing in all these pregame shootarounds, even though they are tantalizingly thrilling.  No, I am watching Rose, but I’m seeing LeBron.  And no one wants to see LeBron up close and personal until the last possible moment.  Certainly not Derrick Rose and the Bulls.