Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have To Play

It's probably a good thing for Derrick Rose that Vince Lombardi isn't the head coach of the Chicago Bulls.  Lonbardi's players talk about how the legendary coach told them that there is a difference between "being hurt" and "being injured".  He was once quoted as saying "Nobody is 'hurt'. 'Hurt' is in mind.  If you can walk, you can run".  The point being that pain comes with sports and athletics--and unless there is actual physical damage to your body (and even then it had better be significant damage)--a player is expected to be on the field.

Which brings us to the former NBA Most Valuable Player Rose--who suffered torn knee ligaments during the 2012 Playoffs--but has been medically cleared to play by the team doctor for two months now.  However, he has decided to bench himself--saying that he is not "mentally ready to play" yet.  I picture a meeting of Rose and Coach Lombardi going something like the scene from the movie Patton where George C Scott comes across a man suffering from shell-shock in a medical facility full of men who have had their limbs blown off or have been shot in the guts and starts slapping him and questioning his manhood.

Making Rose look even worse is that the Bulls have several other players who have battled through injuries to continue playing in the Playoffs.  Joachim Noah is playing on an ankle that will require reconstructive surgery as soon as the season is done. Kirk Hinrich is playing with a deep thigh bruise. And guard Nate Robinson played through the stomach flu last week--throwing up into a garbage can on the bench, and then heading back out onto the court again to lead the team to a Game 7 win on the road against Brooklyn.  It makes you wonder how Rose can look at his teammates in locker room after these hard-fought victories and still feel like they respect him as a "leader".

Maybe someone should put together a "highlight reel" for D-Rose of the Hall of Famers who gutted it out through real injury to continue to help their teams win.  I would start with the painful footage of Ray Nitschke literally dragging one leg down the field to return an interception for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions. Or Jack Youngblood playing on a broken leg in the Super Bowl.  Or footage of Bobby Orr playing on two knees with no cartilage in them so the bone would just grind against bone, but still weaving his way through NHL defenses to score for the Boston Bruins.  Or Kirk Gibson hobbling to the plate to swing on one-leg and hit a game-winning homer against Dennis Eckersley in the World Series.  Or Bob Gibson breaking his leg getting hit by a line drive in the World Series and continuing to pitch.  Or Willis Reed limping onto the court at Madison Square Garden to hit his first two shots over Wilt Chamberlain to inspire the New York Knicks to the NBA title over the Lakers.  Or even Tiger Woods walking four rounds in the US Open and winning with torn knee ligaments AND a broken leg.

If the site of all those guys gutting it out--for far less than the $16.4 MILLION that Rose is making--doesn't inspire him to be "mentally ready to play", perhaps he should consider another line of work.

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