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MORRISSEY: Derrick Rose suffers another cruel twist

Derrick Rose already missed 18 months because an injured left knee. Now he’ll sit out after injuring his right knee.

Derrick Rose already missed 18 months because of an injured left knee. Now he’ll sit out after injuring his right knee. | Michael Conroy/AP

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Updated: December 25, 2013 6:46AM

Imagine being given a unique gift and not being able to trust it. Imagine having the ability to command your legs to go above and beyond other human beings, only to be brought down to earth, hard, by those same unreliable legs. Seems mean and cruel.

That’s where Derrick Rose finds himself today, and it’s a crying shame.

Rose will need surgery after tearing the medial meniscus in his right knee Friday night in Portland. He will be sidelined indefinitely, according to the Bulls. It’s a huge setback for the team and for Rose, who had worked so hard to come back from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that forced him to miss last season.

That a knee injury has happened for a second time is almost beyond belief. It’s definitely beyond fair.

So many questions. Is this what life is going to be like with Rose from here on out? Is this simply the way he’s built, with knees not constructed to deal with the torque and thrust his skills demand? And who up there doesn’t like him?

Bulls fans are experiencing sympathy pains and intense feelings of bitterness in equal measure.

Perhaps this injury won’t be so bad. Perhaps Rose will miss a month or two and be back in time to get his game in shape for the playoffs. But it will be very difficult to watch him now without wondering what part of his body will fail him next. It will be the basketball equivalent of worrying about a phone call in the dead of the night. Nothing good comes out of those calls.

It will take extraordinary mental strength for Rose to get beyond the doubts he’ll have about his legs. How can he trust them anymore?

It’s too soon to get into discussions of whether he’s still the future for the Bulls. Let’s see how he recovers this time. Perhaps it’s a bizarre coincidence that both his knees have been problematic. The realist in us says that we should know better and that the Bulls had better have some long-term plans in place in case Rose isn’t a reliable part of the equation. The dreamer says it’s just a bad dream.

Rose got hurt while turning to get back on defense during the third quarter Friday. It all looked so passive. He winced at first and limped to the sideline. But he looked to be in considerable pain on the bench and had to be helped to the locker room. He was on crutches when he left the arena.

After a great preseason, Rose had looked rusty in the early part of the schedule. That was understandable. You don’t go 18 months without playing basketball and suddenly revert to All-Star form. His explosiveness was still there. He could get to the rim in a hurry, and his jumping ability was exceptional. He was having trouble finishing and shooting, which was predictable considering he hadn’t played pickup games during the summer.

Were there warning signs in any of that? I don’t know. He strained a hamstring recently, and there was some speculation it was a result of his body compensating for the reconstructed knee. Who knows?

What is clear, once and for all, is that Rose did the right thing by sitting out all of last season. His body clearly wasn’t ready for the rigors of an NBA schedule. Funny, we’re not hearing much from all the people who said he should have come back for the playoffs, the people who ripped him unmercifully. Oddly quiet on that front, after so much noise and bombast.

But all of that seems small and inconsequential now. A man who was built to play basketball can’t do it and doesn’t know when he’ll be able to do it again at a high level. After all the pain he has been through, after all the workouts and doubts, he very well could be back in the same terrible spot again.

People can make light of all the money the Bulls and Adidas are paying him, but anyone who has been around Rose know he’s in it for the hoops. It is all he has known in his 25 years on the planet.

This injury wasn’t the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario was that his surgically repaired left knee would come apart like the seams on an old baseball. This was the worst-case scenario’s first cousin. Come to think of it, there’s not much difference, is there?

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