Derrick Rose will not be playing tonight as the Bulls take on the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the second round. As of this moment, Rose has not played in a competitive basketball game in 373 days, which is nearly 9 thousand hours. He has teased us with his pre-game shootarounds, his courtside mentorship, and his convoluted regular status updates. Bottom line: Rose will not be playing any minutes to lead the Bulls against the Heat. Let’s get real. Unless MJ, Scottie and The Worm show up in the peak of their playing condition to give the Heat triumverate the ass-whooping they deserve, well this series isn’t going more than 5 and will only barely compete with Mothers’ Day brunch.
The Bulls don’t stand a chance. Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich are out, and even if they were replaced by Deron Williams and Steph Curry the Bulls still wouldn’t stand a chance. If I were D-Rose, I wouldn’t come back. The Bulls are really banged up and were lucky enough to get out of the first round. The Heat have won 42 of their last 43 games. The Heat are well rested, having not played in a week. LeBron James doesn’t even want the MVP award he’ll be dutifully awarded. Dwayne Wade can go fishing until the 4th. Ray Allen will just come off the bench to hit three’s and then sit back down once the Heat are so far ahead that the slaughter rule will apply. (I think that’s a running clock, all possession arrows go to the Bulls, and the Bulls aren’t called for fouls.) Sure, the Bulls are a nice story especially when you look at what Nate Robinson was able to do against the Nets. This is going to be pretty horrific matchup for the Bulls who nabbed their first Game 7 road win in franchise history on Saturday night, but the ony reason it was their first was because Jordan et al never suffered for the opportunity. Miami is the Number One Seed. They are the post-Jordan-era dynasty, the Lakers of the 80’s, and the Celtics of the 70’s. The Heat just don’t get the proper measure of respect. Which, needless to say, chafes at them a bit. Which, also needless to say, motivates them to crush all comers. Just to make the point.
The only team that may “Beat the Heat”, or even win a game – and yes I am proposing that they could go 16-0 in the playoffs – is the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs disrupted James and the Cavs in ’07 when they made it a quick series. Perhaps if that series worked out differently then Lebron would be with Mike Brown and Kyrie Irving would be in Miami. It didn’t work out that way and now the Super Team will mercilessly destroy Chicago, leaving nothing but charred remains and fingers pointed at young Derrick as if to say, Inspector Javert-style, “J’accuse!”. (I just saw Les Miserables and wanted to work that exprience into this equally tragic story.) This one’s already in the history books. The Miami Heat are going to win the NBA title, Lebron will get his second consecutive Finals MVP, and Derrick Rose will return next year, another 6 months from now, to more actively enable another Heat championship.
As dynasties gain their momentum, there are always those cities that think, “but for…,” and things would have worked out differently and for the better. But for the Bulls this is delusion-speak. Over the course of the next four games, Karl Malone, John Stockton , Chocolate Thunder, Shaq – and even D-Rose himself – will all proclaim the truth: that playing or not playing, Derrick Rose doesn’t alter the outcome. By the ambiguous recommendation of his doctor, the good sense of his PR, and his lawyer’s advice, Rose will end up doing better by not playing than actually playing. Just think about all the hype he can build when next year Chicago is the two-seed and we’re all jazzed up to see them in the Conference Finals with a healthy, dominant Derrick Rose. Certainly that series could sniff at a Game 6.