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It’s inevitable that Derrick Rose will be seriously hurt

Derrick Rose (right) who sout game Memphis with sprained big toe drives basket with such ferocity thhe seems destined suffer

Derrick Rose (right), who sat out the game in Memphis with a sprained big toe, drives to the basket with such ferocity that he seems destined to suffer a major injury. | Nikki Boertman~AP

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Updated: February 18, 2012 8:15AM

A few weeks ago, my Sun-Times comrade, Rick Telander, brought up a topic that most Bulls fans would prefer to see buried with radioactive waste: What if Derrick Rose gets hurt and misses ­significant time?

Let’s take it a painful step further into the declarative.

Derrick Rose will get hurt and miss significant time.

That’s not doom-and-gloom stuff. It’s not worst-case scenario stuff. You’ve seen him play. You’ve seen how he drives to the basket like a horse that’s finally escaped its overturned trailer.

You tell me: Is this guy not a three-month injury waiting to happen? A broken bone? A torn ligament? Altitude sickness from jumping so high?

Rose sat out Monday’s game in Memphis with a sprained toe, but injury-wise, that’s nothing. Kid stuff. This toe shall pass.

With the way Rose ­attacks a game, a major injury is likely someday. It hurts just to write that. But the very thing that makes him great, his ferocity, is the very thing that will bring him down. No player in the NBA drives the lane with Rose’s reckless abandon.

There’s probably a mathematical formula that would back me up on my injury forecast. Something like, energy + mad hops squared x mass of Dwight Howard = mangled ACL.

It doesn’t add up that Rose has stayed relatively healthy so far. He does most of his best work in midair surrounded by men who often are 50 or 60 pounds heavier than he is. If you put yourself in that situation often enough, you’ll pay.

He stands 6-3 and weighs 190 pounds. As Comcast SportsNet’s Stacey King likes to say, Rose is “too big, too strong, too fast, too good.’’ He’s all of those things. But when he gets airborne near the basket, “too big” and “too strong” lose some of their power and meaning. The way Rose jumps, it’s a long way down.

Caution to the wind

There has been a lot of fuss lately about his 37-minutes-a-game average. The minutes don’t bother me in terms of wear and tear. He’s 23 and looks like he can play all day. He’s not 33-year-old Rip Hamilton, who has a groin injury that apparently is deciding whether it wants to be healed by July. Rose’s minutes bother me in the way they expose him to more chances of getting hurt. It’s like being exposed to too much sun.

But what are you going to do? Teams win because their stars carry the load. A player can’t go through life worried about getting injured. Rose has gotten this far by throwing caution to the wind and throwing his body at bigger players.

He’s dealing with the sprained big toe now. A few weeks before, it was an elbow issue after he landed hard. Bumps, bruises and muscle strains come with the territory. He has had ankle sprains that looked gruesome in slow motion but haven’t slowed him much. Maybe I underestimate his physical strength and his ability to heal. I hope so.

During the summer, he worked on posting up ­defenders, but we haven’t seen much of it. That would be one way to cut down on the number of times he’s knocked to the floor.

Trouble without him

In the end, though, the only way to protect against a bad injury is by tapping on the brakes. That’s not going to happen with Rose. He’s not slowing down. The last time there was a guy around here with this kind of will to win and these off-the-charts skills, we were on a first-name basis with him: Michael. Rose is driven. He’s tough. He’s not going to go the safer route.

He surely will be one of the marquee players at the London Olympics this ­summer, which, depending on your outlook, is either a huge honor or another ­opportunity to get hurt.

Everyone knows how valuable last season’s Most Valuable Player is, but Monday was another reminder. Without Rose, the Bulls lost by 16 points to the Grizzlies. With him on Jan. 1, they beat Memphis by 40.

That’s why a lot of Bulls fans and several Bulls ­executives put their hands over their eyes whenever it takes awhile for Rose to get up after a collision. They know what life looks like without him. It looks like Monday looked.

The thought of him ­writhing in pain on the floor is a scary one, almost as scary as the thought of John Lucas III throwing up shot after shot in Rose’s absence. Now I’ve really upset you, haven’t I?

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